Augmented Expeditions is creating interactive AR tourism experiences for museums, landmarks, and other destinations. Each experience includes educational content, a narrative linking the site’s points of interest, and engaging game-based interactions.
While most on-location AR tourism experiences rely on the placement of external markers, Augmented Expeditions aims to provide more seamless experiences that do not put extraneous material into exhibits or landmark sites. Such markers can detract from the exhibit, and might not be allowed, particularly ones that are as reliable, durable, and stationary as the site’s own features.
To handle our desired level of interactivity, Augmented Expeditions uses Vuforia’s model target system. Vuforia allows targeting of a site’s 3D surfaces and other physical features. It also supports direct and precise AR interactions with these features, keeping tourists engaged with the exhibit throughout the experience.
Vuforia’s model target system has a robust tracking mechanism that matches the model by shape, orientation, and distance, and continues working when our app is in the background. This stability makes AR model target experiences easier to engineer.
Other Vuforia features help streamline development as well. The target generation tool allows standard 3D models to be model targets, which further saves development time and energy. Vuforia’s Unity API is very straightforward to use, and features smooth scene integration and extensive device compatibility.
Among AR solutions, Vuforia has proven to be optimal for intuitive development of complex functionality. Additionally, the Vuforia engineering team goes above and beyond in development and trouble-shooting assistance.
Augmented Expeditions was launched in 2017, and recently completed a prototype application, featuring a portable demo.
This video clip shows several examples of AR interactions in the prototype that use Vuforia’s model target system:
- Target recognition: aligning AR Camera using target outline
- Stable AR tracking and virtual object registration, even when target is moved
- Seamless graphic overlay of model target surfaces
- AR interaction resumes smoothly after minigame screen is dismissed
The app demo was well-received at the Virtual Systems and MultiMedia conference in Ireland (VSMM 2017). It garnered a great deal of interest, particularly from the digital heritage preservation community. The demo was also included in AWE Europe 2017 as part of Vuforia’s model targets display.
In informal market testing, tourists enjoy interacting with the demo application, and look forward to using the app at real-world locations. Several tourism commissions have expressed interest in working with Augmented Expeditions to create custom AR walking tours to enhance their sites for their visitors.
The first on-location Expedition is in development in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the childhood home of George Washington.
"With AR poised to be the next mass medium, it is encouraging to see what Augmented Expeditions has produced - a robust offering that adds real value, fun and excitement to the travel experience." Jacki Morie, Founder and Chief Scientist, All These Worlds, LLC