ExplorAR: A Collaborative Augmented Reality Game Platform for Museums — Development Phase 1

Image for post
Image for post

You’re not born too late to explore the Earth, you’re just in time to re-explore the earth in ExplorAR!

Project Overview

ExplorAR is an augmented reality game platform for museums that provides a new experience to learn the world of the past by exploring augmented reality with your phone both inside and outside museums. In this interactive experience, players collect 3D-scanned real-life artifacts such as fossils, sculptures, & paintings. Players will learn how to preserve historical objects by excavating fragments of artifacts from rocks, collaborate by combining fragments of incomplete artifacts, & express their creativity by designing their own virtual gallery.

Background Research

Museums are places where both adults and children can spend their leisure time. They provide reliable, authentic, and understandable information where the public can find meaning and connection. In this era of digital information where there are more alternatives to leisure activities, museums have a decline in interest as a result from lack of social participation from digital natives. As reported by the New Media Consortium, major museums & institutions start digitizing their collection by 3D scanning and exporting them into 3D models which helps museums expand their audience. There is a need for museums to engage their visitors, increase participatory experience through new media, and create a crowdsourcing environment. Vincent Rossi of Smithsonian Digitization Program mentioned the need of utilizing 3D scans for educational use in a novel & meaningful way.

Image for post
Image for post

Background Narrative

In a parallel universe, aliens have attacked the earth by stealing their historical archive and encapsulated them in space rocks. Join forces with other explorers to restore humanity’s knowledge!

Image for post
Image for post

Initial Design

Image for post
Image for post

Game Loop

Image for post
Image for post

Features

Map

Image for post
Image for post

Collectibles

Artifacts

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Thanks to Smithsonian Institution, Matson Museum of Anthropology, & College of Earth & Mineral Sciences
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

Excavation Mode

Combine Mode

Encyclopedia

Gallery Mode

Image for post
Image for post

Portals

Image for post
Image for post

Development Phase 1

When I was working on this project alone during my internship at the Smithsonian, I stumbled upon Niantic’s announcement on Twitter about their developer competition. What surprised me is the Real World Platform SDK enables shared experiences for both iOS and Android devices which has never been done before by ARCore, ARKit, or even ARFoundation.

Niantic’s Real World Platform

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

Conclusion:

We finally submitted the project on time and we got invited to Niantic’s office at the Ferry Building in San Francisco during the demo day. Although we didn’t place as the top 3 finalists, we’re glad to be able to test Niantic’s Real World Platform SDK and be a part of the competition.

Image for post
Image for post

ExplorAR’s Future Plans

ExplorAR has finished its first initial steps, although it is still far from being complete for launch. We almost got everything done for the Outdoor Experience and missed some minor features due to time constraints. We built ExplorAR’s Outdoor Experience throughout the contest, but I expect to have the Indoor Experience on launching the game.

Shared Multiplayer

During the competition, I haven’t got the chance to take a deeper dive into the shared experience due to time constraints and other milestone requirements. I will finally try to learn deeper about building shared experiences with RWP’s toolkit, HLAPI. This will be used for the shared collaboration mode and shared virtual galleries in the future.

Crowdsourcing Mode

Image for post
Image for post

Indoor Experience

In Indoor Museum Experience, exclusive artifacts can be encountered inside the corresponding museum where explorers answer interactive quizzes to obtain them. Indoor Museum Experience artifacts are exclusive inside the corresponding museum. Explorers need to answer quizzes to obtain these exclusive artifacts in the museum. Clues about the artifact can be found throughout the museum exhibition.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

Other Challenges

For a non-profit game, it requires proper funding from educational institutions for future updates and maintenance. I also need to reach out to more museums that could provide 3D scans of artifacts for more variety of collectible content. User feedback from usability tests is still an important aspect of the development of the project as well to test new features before launch.


The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +709K people. Follow to join our community.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store