A whole new world

HWM (Singapore) - - Feature -

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.

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