12 How to implement and take advantage of 3D models?

Creating an augmented reality experience for Carnegie Museum of Art, Team PlastAR is cooperating with two professors from School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. We endeavor to provide visitors immersive and compelling experience when they visit the Hall of Architecture. Currently, they could only see the casts hanging on the wall from distance. Team PlastAR attempts to give them more.


With our unique features, visitors are going to have rich and juicy experience in the hall of architecture, including related stories about buildings and casts, models of the original building and model of the cast in detail. In this way, visitors could have a better understanding not only about what the casts look like, but also what interesting stories/facts are behind them. In the process of creating this fantastic augmented reality experience, making 3D models is one of the most important procedures.


Ideally, clients would offer us models of casts and original buildings. They would scan the casts in hall of architecture first and transform these cast models into hi-poly 3D digital models. Also, they are supposed to provide 3D digital models built by their architecture students. However, when we actually bring these models into our products, we did a lot of work on our own. When we implement the functions related to models, ¬†they are supposed to be rotated and scaled freely by visitors. Having discussed with one of the architecture professors – Francesca, we selected several hot spots for each cast. Hot spots are hooks to catch visitors’ eyes since we have strong competitors like the dinosaur fossils exhibitions. In order to make hot spots, first we collected the historical content from Francesca, then we visualized them on 3D models so that visitors can observe each hot spot individually on Google Tango tablets.


So how we dealt with the models? The following video demonstrates the process:



It depicts how we finish polishing a building model and how we adjust them to our AR experience. We simplified the models and inserted shaders and textures to “reconstruct” it. In this way, well-constructed models give visitors a better vision to ancient architectures, making visitors feel like going back to a long time ago and have a look at the magnificent original buildings.