Large-scale multiplayer AR turns 6,000 sq. ft. of show floor into a digital jungle.
If you’ve ever attended an event like E3, you’re no doubt familiar with the sheer chaos of a jam-packed show floor, whether it’s the massive crowds of attendees bumping shoulder-to-shoulder as they squeeze through narrow walkways, or the endless barrage of in-your-face marketing from companies desperately trying to attract your attention.
The Unreal Garden, a large-scale multiplayer AR experience from The Entertainment Software Association and Onedome, offered E3 2019 attendess an escape from the chaos, turning 6,000 sq. ft. of show floor into an interactive AR jungle.
Originating from a San-Franscico-based pop-up developed in 2018, The Unreal Garden is a combination of art and technology, fusing entertainment with augmented reality, projections, and soundscape technology. Built on the Enklu platform and powered by Microsoft HoloLens, the experience offers users a mixed reality journey through an environment composed of both physical and AR elements.
“E3 provides unparalleled interactive experiences to our attendees,” said Dan Hewitt, Vice President of Communications for the Entertainment Software Association, the U.S. video game trade association that owns and manages E3, in an officia release. “The Unreal Garden @ E3 provides a world-class opportunity for E3 attendees to explore the intersection of technology and human experience.”
“We are truly honored to have the opportunity to participate in E3 2019, which is always regarded as the place where the world of interactive entertainment gathers to encounter innovative new technologies,” said Leila Amirsadeghi, Co-Founder and CMO, Onedome. “The Unreal Garden @ E3 will compliment this year’s show floor and bring this augmented reality environment further to life. Attendees will be immersed in this never-before-seen multiplayer AR activation, which will reveal hidden messages and content as they journey through the experience.”
We had the opportunity to check out the unique experience ourselves while attending E3, and sufficite to say our time inside the Garden was a welcomed change of pace from some of the other more intense immersive experiences offered on the show floor. Donning a pair of Microsoft HoloLens headsets, we ventured into the sealed-off environment and were immediately greeted to a colorful scpectacle of tropical foliage. Layered over these prop set pieces was a healthy assortment of augmented wildlife. By directing our attention at these creatures, we were able to access thought-provoking message from the artists who contributed to the project.
Not only were we able to interact with the existing AR environment—playing with magic mushrooms, watching AR whales float above the treeline—we were also able to manifest our own “energy by holding up our index fingers in front of our visors, upon which a ball of energy would generate. From there, we could paint colorful lines throughout our environment and even cast a few spells, all of which could be seen by fellow users. It’s just a shame the limited FOV of the gen 1 Microsoft HoloLens made the experience so restricting. Still, it was an interesting project that demonstrates the potential of large-scale multiplayer AR experiences.
If you happen to be near San-Francisco, check out the original installation by picking up some tickets here.