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AR Experience, Music, XR

Pollen Opus

An Augmented Reality app inspired by botanics and ambient music.

At Botanic Gardens in Belfast, the Tropical Ravine has always been a place for the public to relax and escape the confines of city life. An environment with its own climate and exotic surroundings.

As the Tropical Ravine had been recently refurbished, the team was keen to explore ways of attracting new audiences via emerging technologies. During early-stage workshops, we discovered that the City Council had been actively commissioning community arts and educational projects in the space.

After a number of initial concepts, we wondered if we could draw inspiration from the environment and bring music to people in a playful and novel way. So we set out to create a live Augmented Reality prototype, inspired by pollen geometry, that used the surrounding botanic information plaques to direct and trigger the user experience.

Users were invited to scan the labeled plaques around the elevated walkways and interact with clusters of visible pollen grains in a form that was part casual play and part ambient music composition. Once a user collected all of the pollen grains, they were left with a gallery of ambient music pieces that they composed and could continue to remix after they left the site.

This was one of our first site based XR projects, and it proved for us to be a fertile concept that has the potential to engage users in playful and meaningful ways, in a manner that could embody the spirit of the environment. From a technical and hardware performance perspective, it also validated the use of real time synthesis and MIDI sequencing working alongside Augmented Reality on a smartphone platform.

Although the project did not go further due to the public health crisis that year, we validated the project through user testing and have managed to re-integrate some of the concepts and technology into other work.

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