What the AR? AR the What!

Okay! Follow along. This post was inspired by a conversation, which also informed a tiny study I developed for the MGD Final Project Preparation course. Commonly known as Thesis Prep, the course is taught by the one and only Matt P. By now you should be thinking, where is he going with this? I’m Certainly Uncertain. In the world of design, you could consider this approach design improvisation. For my hip hop lovers, I’m freestyling here.

How did we get here?

It’s Monday, around 7 pm, the MGD IIIs are working on an Augmented Reality (AR) project due the following day. I’m unaware of the project as I stopped to speak with one of their cohorts on my way to the studio. She’s joyful. I”m not sure why just yet, even after speaking with her. I will find out the reason for her excitement much later from her peers.

Journey continues.. I’ll make up names for fun.

I’m in the studio, three MGD IIIs are gathered around a table working diligently. “What Y’all working on?” I asked, enthusiastically! “An AR project for Derek‘s course,” Clara responded. “Nice!” I quickly replied. “Have you used PlayCanvas before?” Maya asked me. “Nope, but I will now,” I answered.

I’ve realized that the above narrative is not as essential to the content of this post, so let’s get to why we are here.. shall we?

After my conversation with the MGD IIIs, I experimented with PlayCanvas for the tiny study. The learning curve wasn’t as deep, as the User Interface (UI) for PlayCanvas is similar to other game engines I’ve used in the past. Yet, similarly to the structure and content of this post, the outcome of the tiny study would be uncertain until it was realized.

Here is what I knew: My final project direction, “Design as a tool for Cultural Preservation.” The medium I wanted to use for the study, Augmented Reality (AR). And Lastly, the platform upon which the “thing” would be realized, PlayCanvas.”

While experimenting with other projects on PlayCanvas, I remembered an AR project I worked on my first semester as an MGD III. The project was essentially using emerging technology, AR in this case, to enhance the Pope House experience. The Pope House is a museum located in downtown Raleigh that exhibits the life and legacy of Dr. M.T. Pope and his family.

I now had content to work with – images we took during our visit to the Pope House. So..

I took one of the photos of the Pope House, placed it in Photoshop and extruded a 3D model from it. The model was practically unusable within PlayCanvas, but it served as the foundation upon which the study would be built. I took the unusable photoshop model into Maya (do you see the connection to the made-up names now? Clara is also a 3D modeling platform, but unlike Maya, it’s web-based.)

After dedicating about 4 hours to creating the “first ever” 3D model of the Pope House, I brought it into PlayCanvas to create the AR project you will see below. It would have been quite difficult realizing my vision had I not sat in with the MGD IIIs as they pushed through their own projects, and overcame technical challenges along the way.

I’m now thinking.. How do I share the outcome of the tiny study with my readers if the video recording is currently hosted on google drive only? I’ll be back..

I’m uploading the video to YouTube to share it with you all. But as I sat waiting for the upload process to be completed, I thought, hmm.. wouldn’t it be cool if my readers could view the Pope House AR project themselves in real-time, or fork it to create their own? Yes, it would! So.. Click here to make the project your own, or click here to view the Pope House AR project in real-time. When viewing in real-time, print the  shadMarker  or open it on your mobile device and hold the marker up to your computer’s webcam to witness AR magic (it’s really not magic, just technology).

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