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SUCCESS STORY


Natural phenomena AR app for education

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Client

Company from the Netherlands, specializing in 360º panoramas/videos, as well as immersive VR content, to enhance digital marketing strategies. The client was willing to create an AR application for educational purposes. The main idea behind the app with augmented reality feature was to demonstrate various types of natural phenomena in all details and beauty.

Challenge

The main challenge was to bring to life 14 flashcards reflecting natural phenomena. For this purpose, we created high-quality 3D animations with every little detail. The textures, colors and processes had to reflect the real-world phenomena.

3D animations complemented by the sounds, text descriptions and voice read, had to inspire curiosity and encourage a young generation to study & explore the world.

Unlike 2-dimensional educative videos or images, the app should allow to experience the natural wonders, bringing images to life in the palm of a user’s hand.

Solution

The project started in summer 2017. The initial idea was to buy the stock 3D animations and to build the app for scanning them. This would save a lot of development time and client’s budget.

However, after thoughtful market analysis, we figured out that existing animations were either of low quality or didn’t really fit client’s needs.

That’s why we decided to design all 14 3D animations by ourselves from scratch.


Team

For this purpose, Vakoms gathered the following team:

We decided to create a cross-platform application with Unity (to run on Android and iOS devices) and Vuforia (the market-leading platform for building AR animations. Thus, we would cut the time & costs on writing multiple versions of code for different platforms. The app has three modes: 3D, AR and VR for Google Cardboard.


The deck consists of 14 AR flashcards, each for its own phenomena: bioluminescence, tornado, thunderstorm, fire-tornado, auroras, volcanic-lightning, fog, volcano, tectonic-plates, tsunami, lightning, whirlpool, geyser, and earthquake.


3D mode

In this mode, you can view all 14 animations with sounds, read and listen to the descriptions about each natural phenomena.


AR mode

Works with printed flashcards, each having a unique picture standing for one of 14 natural phenomena. They work as markers - are identified by the app and trigger the created 3D animations. To implement this, we tested all pictures in Vuforia platform. We checked if each picture could be recognized by the Unity AR app and was suitable for launching the 3D content. After sorting high-quality items from the others, we started working on the app.



Users have to buy decks of cards, which are the main source of revenue for the client. Each deck has a unique ID code that a user registers in the app. One code can be used on three different devices. This means that a family of 3 members can buy one deck of cards for the three of them, if each family member uses only one gadget.

To generate the unique code for each deck, we developed an admin webpage with a code generation tool. Using Firebase, we created databases where each code of the deck had three vacant places. Thus, every time a user enters the code, the unique ID of his device takes one of three places in a database.

As a result, the AR app offers a realistic look and feel with a 360 view of each natural phenomena. Users can walk around 3D models, approaching them from the different sides.


VR (in Google Cardboard)

The VR mode involves using the Google Cardboard. Wearing it, users can immerse themselves into the VR world of natural wonders and witness them in the most realistic way possible.

Result

In 3 to 4 month, all 3D animations were ready and approved by the client. They were integrated into the app. Once the AR app was ready-to-use, Vakoms team released it on the Google Play and App Store. Now it’s in open access, free to download.

Technology Stack

  • Unity
  • C#
  • Vuforia
  • Firebase
  • Django
  • Heroku

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