The quarantines and social distancing norms imposed by the onset of a deadly pandemic has challenged our lifestyles and could change the way our societies function. On a brighter note though, pollution levels have been significantly toned down as people are forced to conduct their affairs from home – which means less use of automobiles and environmental degradation. These sudden changes, albeit temporary, shows us how pollution levels can be curtailed if we reduce the burning of fossil fuels. Earth Day, an initiative to raise awareness about issues such as this, was founded in the year 1970. It has since been celebrated every year to nudge people and societies in cherishing nature and acting in its best interests.
The National Geographic Society, a body that sets itself to protect nature and create awareness on the perils of its mismanagement, has recently come up with an Augmented Reality enabled cover that offers a cautionary look at climate change. Meant to commemorate Earth Day, the immersive storytelling feature provides projected climate data on 12 key cities across the globe and goes on to depict how these places may feel like after 50 years.
Nat Geo Looks Into the Future
National Geographic’s April 2020 issue will be the first of its kind that the society has ever released. In keeping with this year’s theme of Climate Action, Nat Geo has released the magazine’s first-ever AR filter by collaborating with Facebook’s AR Platform.
This Earth Day experience, the 50th of such occasions, would help Nat Geo to engage smartphone users with a more interactive and immersive educational content that other media platforms like television or print may fail to render. The National Geographic society undertakes many such initiatives to highlight environmental issues such as climate change, amongst its plethora of other pursuits like science coverage, natural conservation, exploration, etc.
How Do We Use It?
Instagram users may access the interactive by opening filters in the camera and searching for “The World in 2070.” The Augmented Reality feature allows users to customize the size of cover and globe in a way the user wants it, all by merely pinching their fingers. The experience can be launched on a flat surface. Upon its launch, a globe would unfurl out of the cover, with the headline “What the world will feel like in 2070”.
The globe’s 3D design facilitates users to stand up and walk around while it rotates. While users may also use their fingers to move the object on their phones, AR is best experienced when users physically move around the digital object.
Around 12 cities across the world have been selected for the purpose, which includes Chennai, Hanoi, Istanbul, Jakarta, Kinshasa, Kuwait City, Lima, London, Los Angeles, Miami, St. Petersburg and Santiago.
The location of each city would be indicated in Yellow nodes, clicking on which the current climate data is shown (includes low and high temperatures during both summer & winter, and average normal precipitation). A line is then drawn across the globe to a place that’s projected to have similar climatic conditions after 50 years. To state an example, the interactive conveys that Los Angeles will feel like today’s Ouezzane Province of Morocco. Certain locations are also displayed without any line, given that no place on the planet is currently experiencing the way those places would in 50 years.
Users enjoying the interactive may even record a video by pressing the globe icon at the bottom and share it as a part of their Instagram stories.
A Brief on the Platform Used by Nat Geo, Spark AR
Spark AR Studio is a product of Facebook that allows users to create Augmented Reality filters and effects for their Instagram stories. The concept seeks to provide users with a filtered experience that remixes the real world with technology and art. Being a free-to-use platform, it has helped the pursuits of many private and business users.
While the service was initially restricted to major influencers like Kylie Jenner or Nike, it now allows everybody to use and submit their own AR effects on Facebook and Instagram. Over 1 billion people have made use of it in the last year alone.
Spark AR has a range of Augmented Reality effects that can be applied to any face or environment using both front and/or back cameras. This proves how powerful the application could be for businesses. Influencers like Kylie Jenner may use the filters in this platform to make people try their lipstick or make-up while they are at their homes.
The Next Generation Technology
Augmented Reality is used in almost all the major enterprise sectors, including retail, construction, manufacturing, and remote-based field services. It facilitates the design of a 3D model that simply depicts how a building would look upon its completion – meaning, you can basically think of marketing your property before the very foundation is laid. Remote workers, be it in any sector, can view task-based instructions, checklists, troubleshooting procedures, and get real-time assistance and monitoring benefits from remote experts. Retailers can allow customers to get a feel of their products and see how they would look and fit into their room, and even make appropriate comparisons before procurement.
This is what IKEA did when it created a platform called IKEA place, wherein people can use AR to see how each furniture model may fit into their homes. Major FMCG and liquor brands, the likes of which include Unilever, Pepsico, Runiart, etc are increasingly using the platform as a part of their marketing efforts. These enterprise use cases, among others, validate that Augmented Reality could easily emerge as an important tool for the industries of tomorrow.
We at TNQ InGage have delivered (and are delivering) Augmented Reality solutions to several industries, including the Tamil Nadu Police academy. We were the first to come up with India’s first-ever 4D Augmented Reality application when the Rajnikanth starrer Kochadaiiyaan hit the theatres. The app, now available on Karbonn phones, enables users to view different angles of a shot, which is not quite possible in a theatre.
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