Facebook's Developer Conference to introduce the MetaVerse was a revolutionary shift in how social connections take place. However, part of the challenge to move to this mixed-reality platform is to be able to recognize who in the real world connects to which Augmented Avatar. This inspired us to create an application that would serve as a bridge between the real world and the upcoming MetaVerse.
We were inspired to build something that related to the MetaVerse also because of the growing interest in AR / VR applications to help people connect in a new way. This form of augmented communication is a new form of social growth & we wanted to experiment with what it could look like when students start using it. Recognizing people and identities in the real world and mapping it to an augmented profile is the first step in the journey to a MetaVerse and that's what we set out to implement.
What it does
Our application is designed to map physical identities of people to an augmented profile. We do this by recognizing UT Austin ID cards and connecting that to a stored profile. Then when people use our mobile application to scan the cards of fellow students around them they will be able to pull up an Augmented Reality Profile to learn more about them. This works by using image recognition to correctly identify the boundaries and content of the ID cards. Then it renders a superimposed Augmented Identity of the courses that the student is taking currently.
How we built it
We built this using Unity and vuforia. These tools allowed us to use pre-trained models to be able to identify images and render Augmented Reality assets. Additionally we were able to use Unity to export APK files that allowed us to run this application natively on android to test them out in real life.
Challenges we ran into
We ran into several challenges. This is was the first time that members on our team were using the vuforia tooling to be able to build image recognition software within Unity. Moving from traditional game development within Unity to building mixed-reality applications was a new area of software engineering that we had to learn. Furthermore, we were also challenged by needing to construct custom AR assets to be able to use them within our MetaVrse application.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're proud of building an application that we feel has merit in being used as a new form of social connection between students. Learning to use a variety of different tooling and put them together in a way that introduces ingenuity to the concept of the MetaVrse is something that we as a team are very proud of.
What we learned
We learned how to use vuforia within the Unity context. We also learned how to incorporate image recognition and object detection within Unity.
What's next for MetaVrse Ticket
Coming next we hope to introduce a suite of new features that extend the capability of this application to perform more than just render course information for students. We hope that we will be able to allow users to build custom Augmented Reality profiles that they can use to share their status, public information about them & allow connected friends / family to quickly know their latest updates. Furthermore, we hope to move from scanning ID cards to be able to use facial recognition to build an AR profile without needing a standard physical interface. This could allow for students to quickly learn more about each other, find mutual interests, connect over shared opportunities and more!
Our application is a first step in the journey towards entering the meta verse and thus we want to be able to upgrade our application to allow users to enter a mixed reality environment. This application is only the beginning in allowing users to migrate to an Augmented Reality identity and next we hope to transpose more Augmented Assets into this application to give users a more rich experience.