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Smithsonian and Adobe create interactive AR ocean experience

Adobe, the Smithsonian and Hydrous team up to create an immersive AR exhibit that brings the oceans to life.

smithsonian adobe ar project

Adobe has partnered with the Smithsonian and Hydrous to create an interactive augmented reality (AR) exhibit for smartphones that brings the oceans to life.

The immersive experience explores the threats facing marine ecosystems including coral reefs, also highlighting the importance of marine habitats amid the climate crisis.

“The growth of augmented reality is enormous – millions of people use AR functionality every day to access facial filters, visualizations, and games,” Adobe said.

“It’s important to remember, though, that AR is still an emerging technology and we’ve really only started to scratch the surface of what’s possible on our mobile phones. With four billion camera-enabled mobile devices around the world, the opportunities are staggering.”

The AR project is part of a programme led by the Hydrous called ‘The Decade of Ocean Empathy’, endorsed under the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Adobe brings the oceans to life

It uses the Smithsonian‘s 3D collection and original samples of scanned corals and features a science-based story created by the Hydrous’ chief scientist Dr Erika Woolsey and her team alongside science advisor Celine de Jong.

The AR scene includes scanned models of the corals from the Smithsonian’s collection with other 3D elements such as animated marine life, as well as narration, music and sounds.

3D animations are designed to help users understand and picture marine life through photorealistic renders and digital copies of real animals and plants.

The educational offering also features interactive elements created using the behaviour system in Aero. These include infographics, animations, buttons, and audio.

The Smithsonian 3D collection

Adobe brought the project to life in Adobe Aero, the company’s creative AR toolkit, and ocean advocate and citizen scientist Danni Washington joined the team to narrate the story.

“At Adobe, we are excited to explore how this new medium can connect the physical world with the digital,” the company added.

“As a technology that can empower creatives to make beautiful, rich, and meaningful art in a more intuitive way, we have started to observe incredible organic experiences that are transforming the world around us and the minds of those who experience them.”

Anyone with a supported mobile device can use the AR experience via the Aero app.

Images: Adobe

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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