Students Create AR Experiences for Entertainment and Education
Georgia Tech Digital Media master’s students Tica Lin and Logan Sand are creating the next generation of augmented reality experiences. They’re using the technology to educate, entertain, and immerse us into new worlds.
Student: Tica Lin, M.S. Digital Media
Advisor: Janet Murray, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, Ivan Allen College Dean's Professor in the School of LMC, eTV Lab
AquaRium is an augmented reality tour of Georgia Aquarium, with the goal of creating a more interactive and immersive experience for visitors by bridging physical exhibits and digital resources.
“Georgia Aquarium already has an official app with detailed information,” explained Lin. “But the searching feature and interaction make the contents difficult to approach. I chose augmented reality as the tool to bridge people's desire to learn and the contents in the digital library.”
She used Unity3D to prototype an app that shows an active menu with 3D modeled marine animals floating 360 degrees in AR view, allowing aquarium visitors to easily access the featured animals by clicking on the model for their location and additional information.
The idea originated from Lin’s interest in designing digital experiences for exhibits and museums. She formed her ideas after investigating museums with extensive digital experiences like Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and the Phoenix Musical Instrument Museum, and has been working in Janet Murray’s eTV Lab to develop her design. Although she doesn’t officially work with Georgia Aquarium on her project, she has volunteered there weekly since September in order to gain more insight for both research and testing her tour experience design. “I look forward to testing my design on site or proposing ideas to Georgia Aquarium.”
Student: Logan Sand, M.S. Digital Media
Advisor: Michael Nitsche, Associate Professor, School of Literature, Media and Communication, Digital World & Image Group
Project: Augmented Reality Comic Book
Sand is using comic book theorists Scott McCloud and Will Eisner’s ideas on graphic novel gutters, or the space between panels, to create an augmented reality comic book. He wants to divide the user’s attention as equally as possible between the physical artifact of the comic book and the companion app.
The goal of Sand’s project is to address the instability that is created in hybrid media when the user’s attention switches between the digital and physical artifacts. For example, apps that use QR codes as markers obscure the codes, removing them from view. Or for things that focus heavily on the physical object, the app is almost always optional or incidental.
Many game companies, both video and tabletop, have begun to research and develop for augmented reality. But according to Sand, their designs are flawed. “It becomes apparent that they are only just tiptoeing outside of their comfort zones in the creation of artifacts,” he said. “The companies that are used to designing purely digital games use the tangible creation as just a tool for image recognition without focusing too much on its design aside from pure utilitarianism, and the companies that are used to designing tabletop games use the augmented reality as minimal enhancement that’s usually optional for gameplay.”
Photos by: Joshua Preston
Graphics by: Raul Perez