Visualize yourself strolling through London’s Victoria Park or walking along Richmond Row. Now enhance that mental picture with an image of how you might make the greenspace even greener, or transform the urban streetscape into an ecological showpiece.
A new competition for Western students is designed to create an augmented-reality version of London locales, with an environmental twist.
Western’s Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES) has teamed up with London-based augmented-reality start-up, EXAR Studios, to host the 2021 Augmented Good Competition, in which the winning entry will have the opportunity to change the way we experience the world around us.
The competition, open to all students at Western, invites entrants to submit ideas for an environmentally focused story that can be expressed in augmented reality.
“Immersive experiences, like augmented reality, have opened so many doors to engage people. Reading and watching videos are great ways to learn but being dropped into the middle of the action is gripping,” said Paul Mensink, the architect behind this competition and a Western biology professor specializing in using educational technology to enhance learning outcomes.
Entrants must submit a 250-word explanation of why their idea would be well-suited to be told through augmented reality, along with a two-minute video highlighting the environmental issue being addressed.
The winning entry will be developed into a Western campus-based augmented reality education/entertainment experience on Engage ARt app in the fall.
The Engage ARt app by EXAR Studios allows users to enhance the exploration of their physical surroundings, whether it’s in downtown London or on Western’s campus. The app uses a phone’s spatial location and camera to show an exact image on the screen of what the user sees with their eyes.
The phone’s video feed is augmented by added 3D structures designed to look like they also exist in that space. As you move through the real world, so too does the augmented reality that appears on your phone.
Instead of looking at the towering conifers of Victoria Park, for example, you could be smack in the middle of a glittering Christmas market and able to navigate its stalls filled with sustainably produced goods from around the world.
“We created this competition to showcase how new technologies are transforming the way we learn and communicate,” said Ben Switzer, co-founder and chief growth officer at EXAR Studios. “This is an excellent opportunity for students to flex their critical thinking, research skills and artistic expression, and to make an impact on the world.”
“We are excited to see how students tap into their passion and tell us why their story would benefit from an augmented reality boost,” said Mensink.
“By turning an environmental issue into an immersive experience, we hope to make an abstract problem tangible and change the way people connect with it,” explained Mensink.
Further details about the contest can be found at https://engage.art/augmentedgood. Entry deadline is Feb. 22, 2021.
EXAR Studios is a digital creative technology company dedicated to improving cities and communities. Engage ARt is an augmented reality app showcasing local arts and culture, and sustainable, smart tourism.