Skybox combines visual graphics, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and the magic of storytelling to create immersive environments to help us enjoy and have an interactive learning experience at museums.
In other words, our goal is to create a mobile app that helps museums integrate virtual reality and augmented reality in order to enhance the visitor learning experience and foster education across galleries and museums.
Here are the first images
Our main goal is to create a simple and systematic way that we can add interactivity to galleries and exhibits and at the same time allow the visitor to learn about them. Therefore, we started by brainstorming various tools and features that our project should have and we ended up using augmented reality as the core of our project.
Skybox three core features are: Augmented Reality, Interactivity and Storytelling.
Depending on the demand of the museum, we can provide either augmented or virtual reality experiences to foster learning. Both of these have their unique advantages. For example, virtual reality allows for a complete immersion, while augmented reality allows for a comparison to the real world. It has been proven by many companies which focus on education and virtual learning, that this technology can improved the ability of individuals to understand core concepts by more than 30%.
Museums have a really hard time to adapt to change, while everything around us has been improved due to technology, museums have stalled. This is mostly due to the fact that creating a new exhibit is both expensive and timely. Thus, we provide for an interactive and simple solution for both the museums and their visitors. Skybox is just like the creation of a new exhibit, we can explore new surroundings, creatures, places, planets, and anything else through this cool technology.
Not only do we provide for immersive and interactive content, but we turn it into a story. We want to provide a complete experience and there is no better way to do that than by inserting the users into the story itself. Through our well crafted stories we want to take museum visitors on a journey. This is done through the implemented of well-designed animations, and thoughtfully written audio. Now anyone can become the first person to go to mars!
Google AR Core
To start with, we tested both, Google ARCore and Apple ARKit. As it was or first time developing AR apps, we wanted to understand all the possibilities available. Finally, we decided to use ARCore as both developers had developed Android apps. We started by understanding the code, making some sample scenes and finally creating our own code.
NASA Website: Mars Rover, Saturn V , Mars Hab, Mars Explorer,
In-house: T.rex , Sperm Whale and Sputnik.
AR Markers: were all designed in house to best fit the app style
In order to test functionality and user experience we run group test at our university, University of Manchester. These tests have been very successful and have shown exciting results. All visitors who tried the Skybox experienced said that they would use it again in another Museum. This shows that museum visitors are excited to have a more enjoyable museum experience in the future.
These tests also taught us a lot. We found that our initial learning experience was too complex as the user had to select each experience based on the exhibit they were at. Most of visitors ended up not finding the experience or simply selecting the wrong one.
For this reason we decided to implement the image recognition capabilities of Google ARCore and make the UX simpler. This time the visitor just has to approach the gallery, scan the AR Marker and 'voila' the VR/AR experience appears.
Work in Progress - Exciting things are coming!
We are currently working on improving the storytelling of a few experiences and finally release the first version of the app in February. This app will allow us to expand this project to more museums through the markers recognition.