A whole new world
Tango AR has also drawn a lot of interest for its educational potential. Google and Lenovo have started to collaborate with museums around the world to enhance the visitor experience through the use of Tango, something they’re calling Kinesthetic Learning. One of the first examples of this is the WWF’s Into the Wild exhibit, which you can experience for first hand at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum.
Stop by the exhibition and you’ll be loaned a Lenovo Phab 2 Pro handset. Enter the exhibition space and instead of a static presentation on illegal hunting in Southeast Asian rainforests, Tango creates an immersive experience on your Phab 2 Pro that transforms the museum into a rainforest. You’ll meet various animals as you explore your new surroundings, and get to see firsthand how Man’s activities affect the environment.
Thanks to a Tango device’s motion tracking capabilities, when you walk five steps forward in the real world, and you take five steps forward in the virtual rainforest. Turn around, and the visuals update in real time to show you what’s virtually surrounding you. This works because MediaMonks – the team responsible for creating the Into the Wild experience – first created a complete virtual model of the museum, and then designed the exhibition taking to account all the interactions with the physical interior of the space. A total of ten real-world coordinates of landmarks in the ArtScience Museum were physically measured and marked in their respective locations in the virtual one, thus allowing them to precisely align both worlds.
A different kind of story telling
With this virtual model of the museum in place, MediaMonks’ artists had a canvas on which to design their 3D environments. What they were building wasn’t simply a rainforest, but a narrative that brought you in contact with a number of animals that WWF highlighted to them.
Rather than use arrows to guide the way, butterflies and tufts of grass on your smartphone display lead you through the story. MediaMonks took the topological locations and natural behaviors of the various animals appearing in the exhibit into account to determine where and when you would get to see them.
For example, the mouse deer is found in many areas including water. Thus, it serves as the perfect lead to draw you to the tapir who, when around rivers, spends a good deal of time in and under water. Being a smaller animal, trying to follow the mouse deer also makes you look down, which then encourages you to look at what else is below you. Likewise, a Pangolin scampering up a tree leads your line-of-sight to what’s above, thus encouraging you to look up into the tall museum corridor.
Changing the real world
While much of the exhibition takes place through the display of a Tango-enabled
smartphone, pains have been taken to ensure that changes in natural lighting in the museum are also reflected in the virtual world. Hours were spent on user testing to discover what storylines worked and what didn’t, and three months were spent on crafting the story, modeling the environment, building the animations and engaging in continuous testing at the museum.
Changes in the exhibitions being held at the ArtScience Museum will also mean physical changes to the space in the museum itself. When that happens, new area files will be needed, so the team will have to scan the area again. Because the exhibition is essentially an app, the experience can be updated remotely much like how apps on our phones are updated. Thus animals and objects can be moved or even added to the virtual world, changing the story appropriately, and resulting in an ever-changing world with infinite potential, all things that are only possible with Tango Augmented Reality.