As mobile users have seen with Pokémon GO, regular folks are more than happy in augmenting real life with graphics, as opposed to being transported to another realm with virtual reality.

Virtual is when you are transported to another world rendered in 3D. Augmented is when the real world includes some digital elements.

While the augmented technology powered with Google Tango is still rough around the edges, a short trip to the Art Science Museum might open your eyes to the possibilities of the technology.

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The combined forces of Google, Lenovo, the World Wildlife Fund and Marina Bay Sands have gone through quite a bit of hassle, to transplant an Asian rainforest into the Art Science Museum. This premise is not the first in the world, as the Detroit Institute of Arts has a similar experience with the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro but it’s nice to see Singapore be second on the list.

What this means is that users who point the Phab 2 Pro around the ASM will see pop up graphics on the phone itself. Titled Into the Wild, Lenovo and Google would have you exploring the corridors of the Art Science Museum, as it displays additional information about the exhibits.

As you venture further into the forest, you would come across more fauna of the rainforest, and each of them would be paired with their very own fact sheet as well in the form of a pop up.

The graphics are stylized so you can’t really expect top end graphics for this experience. If anything, I’d say the visuals remind me of how PlayStation 1 games looked like back in the day.

How the entire augmented reality experience works is by mapping the walls of the Art Science Museum using Google’s technology.

Powered with the Phab 2 Pro, Google’s Tango is able to sense depth and motion, as waving the phablet around will reveal different parts of the rainforest. It all sounds good in practice, but when you hand out so many devices to an audience, this is what you get –

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Plenty of folks pointing at a specific location to catch a glimpse of an animal that might have popped up during the trail.

One thing that struck me was how HUGE the Phab 2 Pro was.

Lined up with my LG V20, which is already large by itself, the Phab 2 Pro crushes my daily device in size easily.

Armed with two cameras on the rear, the Phab 2 Pro continually fires an infrared beam, which I reckon helps the Tango software gets a good sense of positioning, and how far the device is from the surface. It’s probably a good thing that the Art Science Museum has plenty of light, otherwise the experience might be hampered.

Overall, Into the Wild is a good place to see how epic augmented reality might be. If you’re thinking of taking a plunge into the technology, the entire experience is absolutely FREE! So if you’re in the vicinity of the Art Science Museum, do pop on by to check it out.

A full walkthrough with a bit of a crowd might take you a good 30 minutes or so, perfect to cool down from the afternoon heat.

Into the Wild
Where: Art Science Museum, Marina Bay Sands Singapore
When: From 11 February 2017 onwards

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Gerald currently straddles between his love of video games and board gaming. There's nothing that interests him more than trying out the newest and fanciest gadget in town as well. He dreams of publishing a board game sometime in the future!