Apple Reality Composer
(October - November 2020)
In this project, I was tasked to craft an educational, augmented reality experience about climate change solutions via Apple Xcode's Reality Composer. I created a gamified experience for city-dwelling children to learn about overheating cities and offer a small-scale, actionable solution. Using iPad Pro's LiDAR feature, users are able to interact with the game in any physical space.
Through exploratory research across multiple age groups, I discovered that children around ages 8 to 12 usually know little about climate change but are very willing to help make a difference. I also found that children often see climate change as one giant issue and are easily overwhelmed by it. Thus I asked myself:
How might we introduce environmental awareness to children in a friendly and relatable way that encourages curiosity and interest in climate change?
The player places a Greeni fiducial code in their living space and scans it with an iPad to enter the game.
Upon tapping the plant in the first scene, the player is welcomed by a large city they can explore and is prompted to start the game.
The player is shown a simple and easy-to-digest visualization of how climate change causes rapidly rising temperatures within cities.
After explaining the problem, the hero of the game is introduced to the player!
This little tree teaches the player how it can cool down metropolitan areas using the water vapor that it releases.
Then, the player is brought back to the city and is prompted to build green spaces around the city to help lower the temperature.
Each time the player builds a green space, a short fact about how that specific natural space (community garden, park, living wall, etc) can help the city will appear. The thermometer level on the right side of the scene will also drop lower as more green spaces are added to the city.
Once all the green spaces are built, the game ends and the player is encouraged to plant something into their neighborhood.
I interviewed 6 children between the ages of 6 to 12 from friends and family to better understand their lifestyle patterns and thoughts on climate change. Due to Covid-19, I was only able to interview 6 children, so the insights might be biased toward the interviewees.
I asked the interviewees about their interests and hobbies, their attitudes on climate change, as well as how climate change might affect their daily routine, hobbies, and interests.
Below are some summarized quotes of the most frequent responses:
I also ask each interviewee to rate how climate aware they are and how willing they are to help the environment. Most respondents were not very aware of climate change but were generally willing to help make a difference.
After studying the responses, I decided to create a light-hearted game to introduce one aspect of climate change: over-heating cities.
I chose this topic because most users I interviewed were city-dwellers and most of their interactions with nature are from small parks in their neighborhoods or occasional visits to walking trails with their parents.
The player is introduced to a large city in augmented reality through an iPad and is prompted to start the game.
The player is briefly taught about climate change through visuals within the city scene.
Then the player learns that the city is affected by warming climates as well as the negative consequences of overheating cities.
The player is introduced to a solution to the rising climates in the city and learns how plants can help cool down urban spaces.
The player is prompted to add green spaces into the city to help lower the temperature. As the player builds more nature, fun facts about each green space will appear.
Once all green spaces are filled in, the player wins the game!
Beginning scene when the player first enters the game
Prompt for the player to begin the game
Scene describing how heat is trapped in the city (screenshot in Reality Composer)
Details of how plants can help cool down urban areas
Prompt to interact with the green space to cool down the city
Facts about the garden and the green wall
Facts about the park
Facts about the rooftop garden
• Learning from and designing for children was really rewarding. It challenged me to use different methods when asking questions and I loved listening to their honest, thoughtful, and detailed responses.
• Through making this game, I learned about the different considerations around user flows, signifiers, and affordances compared to making an app or website. It was really exciting to teach users about a created world, design a story for them to follow, as well as account for different types of paths they might follow.
• It was extremely fun to work with Xcode's Reality Composer on both MacBook and iPad, as well as explore ways to use augmented reality tools.
• Test and interview more users to account for broader and more diverse audiences.
• This project is quite conceptual and experimental and I would like to explore how it can become a real product. For example, I'm interested to research how AR can be more accessible, as well as how this virtual experience and the fiducial code might be packaged and marketed.
• I would also love to continue working with Reality Composer as well as exploring game design further!