City Explorer

Interactive city model

Tasks: Concept development, coding, 3D modeling, prototype manufacture


In the study course "Unterwegs" led by Prof. Ralph Ammer at the University of Applied Sciences Munich we dedicated ourselves to several questions that occur when you are abroad. My approach was a concept for a mobile augmented reality application. In short I wanted the user to be able to see how old the buildings around him are. This simple information gives the user a large set of possibilities to explore the development of a city. To make this concept become manifested I built different prototypes of which one suddenly was more interesting than the whole concept itself. The City Explorer is an interactive 1:500 physical city model which is connected to a computer. On the computer screen the user can see the same city but as virtual 3D model. In the example the buildings on the screen are color coded in relation to their date of construction: old buildings are green, new buildings are red. Now the user can start to explore the city model by moving a tiny figure between the physical buildings. The figure has a red and a green LED attached to its bottom. The houses of the model are mounted to a semi transparent acrylic glass board. Underneath the board there is a camera which "sees" the red and green LEDs shining through the board. Software on the computer tracks the position of the figure and moves the camera inside the 3D model analog to the movement of the figure. So in the end the user sees on the screen what the figure sees inside the model. But on the screen the buildings can be enriched with informational layers like the color coding.