I just got back from Hong Kong, where I had the opportunity to try a couple of site-specific Augmented Reality apps and another that’s potentially global in scope.
First up is an art installation at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center entitled “Liminal Encounters: An Augmented Reality Exhibition“, that features eight contemporary artworks located in different sites around the ASHKC complex.
The AR is pretty well integrated into the environment, and is billed as a scavenger hunt of sorts, complete with a program containing clues and a quiz. I was most intrigued by a stone formation that had been 3D scanned and presented in both AR and as a 3D print, two different ways to bring a piece from another location into this space. Most of the work is static (non-animated), and many of them are simple 2D images that appear over the existing context. Still, it’s fun to see another group of artists experimenting with AR. See more at BNY Mellon.
Next I experienced “HKACT! Act 1 BeHere“, focusing on individual people’s snapshots and images of daily life in Hong Kong from the 1940s to the 1980s. Actors were used to act out the scenes, which were shot using photogrammetry with 70 cameras in 360 degrees. The same AR target can be found in ten different public spaces in Wan Chai, allowing you to bring one of several different groups of characters from Hong Kong’s past into a contemporary space where you can act as the photographer to compose a new scene which combines the two. The characters can be rotated and scaled, which gives the photographer a great deal of freedom in composing a shot. The results are quite satisfying. Produced by Osage Art Foundation.
Finally, I downloaded an app published by the Hong Kong Post Office called “HKPostStamps“, which uses real HK postage as the targets, and features Revitalized Historic Buildings, Vintage Vehicles celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Fire Services Department, and five Children Stamps exploring the five senses. Unfortunately, the stamps were sold for only a brief period and I was not able to get my hands on the real deal, but I am able to activate the AR from pictures of the stamps that I found on line. There is some issues of scale with the buildings (small targets, large models), but the vehicles work quite well, and include some minor animations of characters opening doors on the vehicles to show you how they work, as well as links to panoramic photos of the interiors of the vehicles. I have not found any photos of the “Children Stamps” to date. If someone sends you a letter with one of these stamps on it, visit HongKong Post to download the app and give it a shot!
All in all, I enjoyed the explorations, but came away very proud of the work that we are doing here at WORKSHOP 3D, as it holds up well against that to be found in this World-Class City.
UPDATE: April 10, 2019
I was able to obtain one of the Children’s Stamps on eBay. It’s got to be one of the biggest legal postage stamps I’ve ever seen, at about 4 1/8″ wide and 2 1/2″ tall on an even larger sheet:
On first viewing through the app, this stamp suffers from a similar problem as the historic buildings, in that the Augmented Reality is a lot bigger than even this huge stamp. However, if you pull the camera back (and it’s a pretty stable target, so you can back off a ways), you see a rotating animated wonderland, with characters representing each of the senses performing various activities as you click on them. When you click on the embedded Chinese character for the specific sense, a text screen gives a little more information.
I’m glad I obtained one of these stamps, because this is probably the most successful of the three modes supported by the app. The target is sticky, and the animations and interactions are fun. The only thing I am missing here is a better connection between the target and the Augmented Reality. We have found that the most satisfying AR experience bring the Augmented Reality into the real world instead of ignoring it.