Easy to use, accessible by everyone. No extra hardware required :) The overwhelming majority of Americans own smartphones, yet most people don't utilize them to their full potential. We wanted to create an app that made the museum going experience more enjoyable and more informative, at no additional cost to any museum goers. On top of this, it allows museums to create more exciting exhibits with additional display material that would otherwise be hard to create.

What it does

Adds layers onto the museum experience with AR. The placards are key. At the forefront of any museum exhibit are placards providing pictures and explaining what is being shown. With our app, placards become AR markers. Using these markers, an augmented layer is inserted over the picture, complete with exciting visuals and additional information. The application uses the image as a form of position tracking, keeping the generated layer in place and even allowing the user to move the phone camera around to see different angles of the layer, whether it be a 3D model or additional text.

For the average Joe: Again, this system allows a museum to include all of the above-mentioned features at very low cost. No buying prohibitively expensive application-specific hardware. A full museum could be outfitted for a fraction of the cost of one hololense.

How we built it

Unity, Vuforia, and C#. The entirety of this project is brought together in Unity 3D, with the Vuforia plugin to help with AR tracking, and C# scripts to fill in gaps. Besides the computers used to animate/write code, as well as the phones with the apps installed, no additional hardware was used in the creation of this project. The 3D models are free to use from Google Poly. All animations and effects were created using C# and Unity.

Challenges we ran into

Hogan's computer refused to use the provided android SDK's to build and run the application on Android devices (eventually turned out the android SDK was too new and had compatibility issues with Unity). Caleb could not get Vuforia to track custom images as it only seemed to want to run off an example marker, although this issue was solved.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Finishing the project without dying of caffeine overdose.
Hogan: I had never used Unity or programmed in C# before so this was a huge learning experience for me, and was glad I was able to figure things out and help to the best of my ability.

Caleb: While I've used Unity and Metaio (another Unity AR platform) in the past, I've never dealt with animations or particle effects on this scale. Also, converting to Vuforia from my previous knowledge was a little tricky to say the least. I am proud of what we have accomplished and I hope that it's evident in our work.

Expanding this project in the future

Outfitting an actual museum: This system could be installed into a museum with no modification of their existing infrastructure. The current placards could be augmented very easily, and as displays are changed out they could be replaced by new ones designed with AR in mind.

Further Ideas:

  1. Implementing a virtual tour guide that would lead visitors through each exhibit
  2. Creating interactive exhibits where pressing a button on the smartphone could activate animatronics or other digitally controlled devices.
  3. Create a centralized app that all museums can use. When visiting a museum, the app would automatically download and use the correct database of AR targets based on GPS location or user input.
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