The task was to consider a futuristic “City of Experiences” and create a concept that would depict what the future of cities might be like in the year 2100 and above. There were no requirements or limitations. Our goal was to reimagine public space and digital experiences. Through our research we gathered some insights as to how people used to experience public space vs. how they experience it now. We found that a large percentage of people who live in high-density urban areas like Toronto feel depressed due to a lack of community and connectedness.
Through our research we gathered some insights as to how people used to experience public space vs. how they experience it now. We found that a large percentage of people who live in high-density urban areas like Toronto feel depressed due to a lack of community and connectedness. We wanted a way for people to experience connection despite being physically alone, to experience a new type of activity without having to purchase and bring equipment, to make the future of connection accessible to all.
The overall concept for a future of Realm was to create holographic experiences involving games and activities to bring people together located in parks, plazas or other public space.
Initially the team wanted to create an augmented reality game any user could play with another person in a different space to show the concept of Realm. Many challenges arose with our initial idea as it was slightly ambitious for the time frame we were working with along with the fact that all of us were still new to learning about Unity and augmented reality basics.
Our Plan B was to create the experience of selecting games and activities through a menu and to simulate playing a game against a holographic person through a projection. Since we had to minimize the amount of interactivity we had originally planned, we had to come up with other ways to make the user experience Realm. Though the gameplay footage we used was not actually interactive, elements like having the user physically select their choice by hovering their hand over videos, a scoreboard, player information and a welcome screen made the experience feel more interactive.
Prototyping Realm involved filming videos of us performing the activities and playing the games as if we were playing them with the user who would be interacting with them. The videos were edited to look holographic and UI was created to solidify the experience of having options and seeing and understanding that a game was being played by having elements like a scoreboard, menu, other player information etc. The videos were then taken into Unity and placed into the menu interface of Realm and turned into targets for the Kinect to pick up on so that the user could interact with them to pick which game they wanted to “play”.
This combination of work was projected onto the inside of our built structure that we built and tested over the course of a week. Many considerations had to be taken into account before beginning to build such as the amount of space needed for the Kinect interactions to work properly, the amount of lighting, the vinyl that we put up on the outside & inside of the installation, adequate space for users to move around in, the dimensions of the average person etc. The inside walls were lined with vinyl backgrounds of trees and green space, and astroturf was added to the inside for users to step on to make them feel as if they were outside.
We were challenged to really think outside of the box for this project, and I believe that it shows through the originality of our concept and installation. Through its many iterations the idea of connectivity and bringing people together remained. This was an amazing learning experience as it dipped into many areas we were all mostly unfamiliar with such as Unity for Xbox Kinect, building a physical installation and the planning that a year long project full of challenges and iterations takes.