Training Little Explorers

It’s been a while since Edmund Hillary and Jacques Cousteau became household names by scaling mountains and plumbing the depths of the oceans, but there remain mountains to scale and depths to plumb. In order to raise the next generation of nature enthusiasts, scientists and explorers, we partnered with National Geographic to create an augmented reality scavenger hunt to go along with NatGeo’s “Earth Explorers” traveling exhibit.

Lions, Sharks and Penguins, Oh My!

National Geographic’s exhibit features modern explorers navigating a variety of extreme environments. We added a 21st century twist to the exhibit by implementing an augmented reality scavenger hunt. We placed compass shaped AR markers around the exhibit that visitors could scan with their mobile devices to get a deeper look at the animals that these explorers might find.

Each station also unlocks a trophy, a tool that the explorer would use in that environment. When all of the trophies are collected, visitors unlock a special completion trophy as a reward. By gameifying the exhibit, visitors are encouraged to spend more time reading and learning.

Acting Natural

Our 3D animation and VFX team modeled, textured, rigged and animated the animals and trophies in Autodesk Softimage. We then pulled the models into Unity 3D for programming and interactivity creation. Each AR model is fully represented in 3D space and users can pinch, zoom, swipe and spin them.

With our creatures and trophies ready to go, the next step was programming the UI. We used our own development tools to integrate our models into an AR application and built out the user interface and achievement system.

World Explorers

The “Earth Explorers” exhibit is currently touring around the world, so if you’re near, you can check it out for yourself. Otherwise, we’ve got plenty of pictures from the exhibit’s debut and you can download the Earth Explorers app from the iTunes app store.

Latest Related Projects

There’s plenty more to explore. If you want to embark on a project of your own, get in touch.