An Augmented Reality museum guide tailor-made to each user. It can be experienced throughout the museum or remotely at any other location.
- User Flows, Design System,
Prototyping, User Research,
How might we leverage the power of Augmented Reality to enhance the way visitors experience a museum visually and tactilely?
Museums with huge collections are bound to their geographical location, as well as their building size. Their curatorial layouts are far from customized to the interests of the visitors by attempting to encompass massive timespans, materials and dimensional scopes that overwhelm the visitors and leave them feeling as though their visit was incomplete. This is heightened by experiencing a sense of distance from the intimacy that is desired with particular pieces.
Our research indicated that visitors can feel disappointed when leaving a museum if they felt that they did not get to experience everything that the museum had to offer. Our museum experience starts with a survey, to gauge visitor's interests to ensure that their visit is customized to their needs and wants. Users were asked about their interests, relating to three categories: time period, geography and material form.
We established early on that removing unnecessary stimuli from museums would be crucial to enhancing visitor experience and immersion.
An aspect of AR that is appealing is that it eliminates the traditional screen frame and the restriction it brings to the experience. We did some extensive research to find a technology that would highlight this: Particle Systems. This is a fluid tool that adapts to its environment, and it could follow a user through their journey throughout the museum.
AR provides a unique opportunity in this space that will enhance immersion. Unlike traditional museums, haptics experiences allow users to interact with art, without fear of damaging it. For example, if a user is able to touch a sculpture, rather than just look at it, they may have a better understanding of the piece and of the artist.
We explored Point Cloud LiDAR scanners that have become more accessible in recent years. We pushed the limits of this tool, to record not only visual 3D assets but to integrate them in a system of haptic rings that allows the user to feel and touch the sculptures. We prototyped a version that could communicate with our application, to get the individual closer to their favorite pieces.
Our goal was to provide the opportunity of experiencing these pieces to those who may not normally be able to access museums
The current state of the art technology allows for novel interactions with sculptures and pieces that could not have been experienced prior. In this example, a user can see how a statue may have looked, in full color, at the time of its inception, adding new layers of depth to the museum experience.
The goal of this project was to explore how we could use AR prototyping tools and to gain a deeper understanding of their applications. We chose art as a collective area of interest.
Our initial approach to the project was based on discussions about the use of individual vertices to structure computer-generated imagery. Advancements in the usability of LiDAR Point Cloud recordings of 3D spaces and Particle Systems to simulate real-life physical behaviors eliminated the need for the physical restrictions of the traditional frame imposed by standard screen hardware with fixed resolutions.
Our three part experience consists of the survey, the tour and the haptic experience.
The survey is the initial encounter the visitor has, where a series of multiple-choice questions helps to determine their specific areas of interest.
The walk-through uses this information to create a tailored AR tour that uses a malleable Particle System to guide the user from the different locations.
The haptics are activated when the user reaches a specific art piece that they want to explore further so that they can feel and interact with the piece. Using particle systems, PointAR can successfully and dynamically transition between realities and technologies.
Given the nature of the AR headset we used being hosted on a mobile device, we felt it would be intuitive to host the survey there and allow for a seamless transition to AR via the particle system.
The nitty gritty
To prototype this guidance experience, we used Unity to create the Particle System that guides the user around the museum. This system is based on a Bezier curve that dynamically adapts to a series of objects that function as “magnets” that guide the particle system to distinct points in real time.
For the prototype we created a UI system that would allow us to manually move, rotate and activate the start, middle and end points of each Particle System section. This was necessary so that we could go into a museum environment to test this system in various spaces. We found that these systems are successfully and free of their borders.They can grow, shrink, and move in unrestricted space. Furthermore, these systems that are made up of individual dots allow for the creation of digital twins of untouchable objects. This also keeps a consistent visual language throughout the museum tour.
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