The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way we live our lives. Entertainment and fun have not been of the utmost concern given the current situation. We are all bored at home and need something to startle us and wake us up. Entertainment options have been limited as people can no longer go to their usual fun places to enjoy themselves. Quarantine can take a toll on people and people need a way to relieve stress. Since it is important to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus, occasional breaks to have some fun need to be taken. We wanted to bring some 3d augmented reality fun to you.

What it does

This simulation uses unity and echoAR to develop a haunted maze. A user can travel through a maze from their point of view and explore the several dead ends and “scares” that pop out at every turn. The user needs to determine which turns to make to complete the maze while running into scares. This simulation is not just for entertainment, however, but it can be used to face phobias such as arachnophobia among others. Consistent use of this simulation can reduce the severity of phobias and prove to be a form of therapy for some users. This program was originally intended to be created using augmented reality so that the user can see the maze in their own living room for example and walk through it. However, due to an unforeseen error, this interface could not be translated to a mobile phone to implement the AR for the user to use. We can assure you that we tried for a long time, but sadly, it did not work. This program uses models from echoAR, and hypothetically it should be possible to view them from your phone. To simulate walking through this maze in real-time, we programmed a camera walkthrough in unity to demonstrate how it would work. The program would be run on the phone and would create an application that would open your camera and show our program.

How we built it

The haunted maze was created in Unity and objects were imported or taken from the echoAR model library. The positions, orientation, scale, and actions of the models were modified using metadata from echoAR. This changed the objects in real-time without having to update the Unity file on Github with the use of the Unity SDK. The objects were placed in strategic locations in the maze for a better user experience. These objects were imported, positioned, and animated to some extent. We wanted to add our own creative spin as well, so we created some of our own 3D models that we thought might startle you a little bit which we made in blender and imported through echoAR. We changed the scenery and colors to make it look more haunted. The walkthrough was programmed in Unity frame by frame to model the truly fascinating experience of echoAR.

Challenges we ran into

Challenges we faced were working with the echoAR console/interface and importing those 3D objects into Unity. The ARFoundation pack was tough to figure out, and we could never “build and run” our program in order for it to be compatible with our phones. Another issue we ran into was implementing the AR for the user’s phone. After hours of research, we were still not able to find a fix and were not able to achieve what we initially hoped to do. We were still able to use the model creation aspect of echoAR but were not able to bring the maze to life. It still looks amazing, but would have been much better if AR was incorporated.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Our team is proud of the fact that this was our first ever hackathon. Moreover, for some of us this was our first time using Unity, and for all of us, our first time using echoAR. We were ecstatic to learn how to create ar/vr figures that could be seen on our own floor, or desk, all because of echoAR. We are proud to have been able to work with such a new and improving technology.

What we learned

We had to adapt to the new circumstances and find an effective method of communication. In addition, we learned about the various uses of augmented and virtual reality. EchoAR was our first experience to create ar/vr apps and games. These uses were what captivated us to incorporate this into our hack. Overall, this experience has been very unique. For most of us, this is our first hackathon and this experience has instilled in us a deep love for competition programming, exposing us to the many different aspects of computer science and development. It has also let us know that we should be more prepared and organized as we ran into quite a few problems. Scratch that, a lot of problems.

What's next for echoAR Haunted Maze

With this being our first hackathon, we scaled back on what we wanted to get done. Also not being able to incorporate the AR aspect of echoAR into our project lowered our expectations of what our final project should be. We want to be able to get the maze into your hands to play around with. Also, we want to try to make the models in the maze interactable with. We are all hoping that next time, we can incorporate echoAR to create bigger and better projects.

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