Natural History Museum

Augmented Reality at the Darwin Centre, National History Museum

The client required enhanced and individualized content through the medium of bespoke hand-held touchscreen devices, enabling the public to view and get involved with the Darwin Centre’s new interactive film ‘Who do you think you really are?’.

By simply moving the interactive hand-held touch screen, individuals in the studio auditorium can effectively interact with the environment from their perspective.

The augmented reality effect was achieved with the use of three independent screens, web cams and the implementation of 80 LED markers located around the theatre allowing the viewing angle of the hand-held touch-screens to be detected and an image rendered on the individual screens, which alters depending on how the device is moved.

The individual handsets also allow the audience to send images to screens around the studio, interact with Museum scientists, play with virtual specimens and take part in quizzes. Through the handheld device individuals can also see the augmented reality projected into the studio in real time so that an intricate tree of life appears to move within the studio itself.

The processing power required for 74 people to view the augmented reality individually at the same time, along with the ability to send data back to the audience, is significant. To meet this challenge each hand-held touch-screen was connected to its own dedicated computer, completely integrated within the control room, to ensure the temperature in the studio remains constant and noise is kept to a minimum.

With the addition of augmented reality, shown on the bespoke touch-screen devices, this project now leads the way in educational presentational technology enabling scientists within the Darwin Centre research labs to present their work to the public in a way which has never been seen before.

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