African Safari Created with Augmented Reality and 3D Renderings


The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum, recreated the Masai Mara National Reserve within an exhibit. They were challenged with presenting sculptures created by artisans from Nairobi while still maintaining a creative learning environment for visitors. Nanonation designed an innovative solution to enhance the learning experience by utilizing Augmented Reality (AR) with 3D renderings to bring these sculptures to life in front of the children and allow them to learn educational facts about the animals in the reserve.

Nominating Company: Nanonation, Lincoln, Nebraska
Venue: The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum, St. Louis, Missouri
Project: The Magic House at the St. Louis Children’s Museum
Category: Entertainment & Recreation

The Magic House recreated a Kenyan community within an exhibit called Kenya’s Kids. This exhibit was focused on learning about life in an African village. They were challenged with presenting large metal sculptures while still maintaining a creative learning environment for visitors. Nanonation assisted by using Microsoft Surfaces, allowing visitors to view the sculptures as if they’re taking photos on an African Safari. The user focuses on glyphs around the area to provide visual feedback about taking a photo of the sculpture at the right time. As the photo is taken, the image transforms from the picture of the real-life metal sculpture to a 3D version of the animal in its natural habitat. Educational information about the sculpture’s species and lifecycle will also appear in the frame, allowing the user to swipe through various facts for the provided Elephant, Giraffe, Lioness and Monkey figures.

Environmental factors proved to be the most difficult challenges to overcome. The tablets needed to move and rotate to a small degree in order to provide the proper AR experience. Large windows with natural light and thousands of young visitors a day provided difficulties for the deployment of the tablets. Adding to the difficulty, the exhibit is a traveling exhibit and will be relocated in multiple new locations throughout 2019 and 2020.

Working closely with the Magic House’s internal fabrication team, Nanonation assisted in providing the proper mixture of custom fabricated and industry standard mounting solutions. These custom mounting applications allowed the elementary school-aged visitors and their parents to fully utilize the devices in order to interact with and learn more about the animals they were viewing. The entire solution was engineered so that it could easily be serviced and installed in new locations as part of the traveling showcase.

The Magic House pic2

Overall, feedback from members and visitors has been very positive for the exhibit, including the Augmented Reality technology. Overcoming the environmental challenges and hands-on, real-time use cases for the mounting solutions was the deployment’s biggest point of feedback for adjustment after the initial installation. Having nearly 37,000 interactions since the opening of the exhibit in June of 2018, the success of the deployment has been measured in approval and recognition as well as in visual engagement of the technology from visitors and staff.

The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum

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