Emet: an AR Van Manual
Have you ever been in a tiny home or a converted van?
My favorite part about tiny spaces is the intricacy and intention with how they are built. Not only are they functional but they are full of tiny-living ‘hacks’ and dual-purpose elements. Oftentimes these items are so well integrated that they need to be pointed out in order to be appreciated and utilized.
Over the past few years, interest in tiny living has boomed. In particular, the #vanlife movement and van rental companies have seen massive growth in people looking to downsize and hit the road. There is so much positive surrounding this shift and I encourage everyone to explore the benefits of living small. However, as rental companies expand so too does the time dedicated to walking customers through the van systems and teaching people how to utilize the van while on the road.
That is where Emet comes in. For our final Critical Making project, I teamed up with Caleb Hammel to streamline the onboarding process for new renters looking to adventure.
We built an AR experience where van renters can scan a code using their phone and either text or animation would show up highlighting how to utilize that van system. In addition to fleshing out the AR elements, we also prototyped a basic app flow/design that illustrates how a user would engage with Emet and learn about their rental van.
For this project, we utilized a variety of software including…
Spark AR for building out AR functionality, spearheaded by our tech wiz Caleb.
Cinema4D for animations and van model design for realistic sizing, spearheaded by me (Heather).
Adobe XD for app design and prototyping, led by Caleb.
To begin we decided to focus on 3 elements of the van to build out in AR. We decided on the bench to bed conversion, the captain swivel seat, and the control panel explanation. From here we set off on building all the pieces.
I began working on the animations in C4D which initially was challenging but as I got further into the project things seemed to come together. I built a to-scale model of the van so that I would have a foundation on which to build the animated elements. The bench-bed conversion and captain swivel seat were the only 3D elements for this project so that is where I focused my time.
Meanwhile, Caleb hammered out the app design and user flow.
Once our animations were set we worked in Spark AR to bring in the FBX files and place things accordingly. We attached QR codes throughout the van where renters could scan and view the AR elements. These QR codes acted as image tags for us to reference in Spark AR and initiate the animations after scanning.
Here are visuals of our AR experiences.
One of the biggest challenges was lining up the animations with the actual elements in the van, this took a decent amount of time and I’m sure could be done better in the future. Currently, our AR elements are only prototypes within the Spark AR system, if we were to continue with this project it would be nice to embed the AR experience directly into the app prototype.
Overall this project was both engaging and challenging, I feel that I expanded my skillset and honed in on a workflow. Prior to this project, I had not worked with this medium before but it was fun to see the potential for AR technology and the benefit it could provide for both company and customers.