Many fans of XR technology were disappointed at this year’s E3, which wrapped up last week. There wasn’t much talk about upcoming VR or AR experiences, though some other title releases were exciting.
The event, one of the world’s biggest trade shows for videogames and associated technology, had little for XR enthusiasts. That is, in terms of speakers and title releases. One of the big events at this year’s E3 was the Unreal Garden and, if you weren’t at E3, you may still be able to see it.
What Is the Unreal Garden?
The Unreal Garden is an AR experience developed by onedome. The organization, located in Los Angeles, California, is a sort of interactive-art gallery. It’s been around for a while and has a couple of experiences other than the Unreal Garden. However, the Unreal Garden is its most ambitious project and showing it at E3 has gained it a lot of attention.
The AR experience actually begins with very real physical artefacts including streams and a waterfall. There are also “sets” including cabins. Before the AR experience starts, the space kind of looks like a stage ready for a simple play. Once the actual experience begins, the stage is populated with AR plants and animals. Visitors don’t only see these things, they are able to interact with them. Visitors also have their own powers to change and interact with their AR environment. Eight AR artists from around the world worked on creating these AR elements. Each has their own style that lends to the exotic feeling of the whole experience.
“I’m always amazed by these artists and their ability to create beautiful and truly immersive art the angages various senses through unique digital experiences,” said Epson America’s senior product manager Remi Del Mar.
What Makes It Special?
The Unreal Garden is an innovative AR experience not necessarily because of its content, but because of its venue.
If the Unreal Garden experience above sounded familiar, it might be because it sounds a lot like Tonandi. The Magic Leap experience took home the Immersive Reality Technical Achievement Award at this year’s DICE Awards. However, Tonandi works with the user’s surroundings rather than with a “stage” like the Unreal Garden. Further, the Unreal Garden is a collaborative experience. People don’t just interact with the experience, they interact with each other within the experience.
These additional functionalities require external hardware. That’s why it needs to be hosted in a venue like E3 or onedome instead of running on a headset like Magic Leap.
The hardware that onedome uses is provided by Epson. Epson laser projectors provide “mood lighting” for the environment but they also project images that the AR headsets can interact with.
How Can You See It?
Epson has announced that The Unreal Garden is going on tour, so you might be able to experience it without going to LA. Unfortunately, onedome hasn’t posted anything like tour dates on their page but it’s worth keeping an eye out.