In our busy world, people often rush from place to place. Sometimes, people need to stop and appreciate the art and the world around them. Especially now, we were looking for ways to connect local communities safely and creatively. paintAR provides such opportunities.

What it does

Find art where you least expect! paintARt is an alternative reality app that overlays shared art pieces over everyday landmarks, like walls, posters, and plaques. Users collaborate on, or simply admire, different types of canvases, including murals and image collages.

Open the app and find local virtual art installations on the interactive map. Once you get there, open the camera function and point it at the landmark in real life. When the camera input matches a reference image, a canvas will be virtually projected on your phone screen. Admire, then edit the canvas using an image editor according to a given prompt. Functionality includes text, emojis, brushes, camera integration, cropping, and filters. When you’re done, simply press submit and watch your work be projected in 3d!

The possibilities are truly endless. Collaborate on the same canvas with others or create a collage of your own images in a grid. Share doodles, selfies, dog pictures, anything!

Connect with people across the world as well! Our application supports “portal” canvases, in which artists from different locations across the globe can collaborate and send artistic messages on the same canvas.

How I built it

PaintAR was built primarily using Android Studio and ARCore. The opening map utilizes Google Play Location services to display the user’s location and surrounding murals in real-time. Images are synced and updated with Firebase Realtime Database and Google Cloud Storage. We also relied on Burhanuddin Rashid’s open source Android Photo Editor for editing images on the phone.

Challenges I ran into

Setting up ARcore in Android Studio was extremely difficult, especially since most of our team had almost no prior experience with the ARCore SDK. Additionally, learning how to position 2D items in 3D space required learning about the fundamentals of AR, specifically how AR core anchors and tracks 3D models in physical space. We also ran into issues with the data storage, scope, and database portions of our project.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Most of our team had almost no experience with AR mobile development. Creating a functioning AR app in just a day was a fun challenge. We also had little Android Studio experience, with three out of four teammates new to it. We’re proud of being able to work together effectively while also learning.

What I learned

We learned a lot about the fundamentals of AR, including how virtual objects are represented in physical space. We also spent a significant amount of time learning about a variety of potential backends for our app before settling on Firebase and Cloud Storage.

What's next for paintAR

We are thinking of adding additional types of murals, such as a 3-d mural, gif and video support, and allowing users to create their own anchor canvases.

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