Mixed Reality for Museum

A Pacific Science Center and Magic Leap sponsored project


4 months

My Role

Research, Storyboarding, Prototyping, MR Development


Unity, C#

The Challange

Increase visitor engagement and knowledge retention. Working with spatial limitation of the astronomy exhibit area.

The Outcome

Introducing a collaborative mixed reality game that takes advantage of the museum environment and incorporates materials children's are learning at school.

๐Ÿ“„ Overview

Towards the end of 2019, Pacific Science Center, a non-profit science center in Seattle collaborated with Magic Leap, a technology startup devoted in Mixed Reality (MR) technology. My team worked with the two organizations to utilize Magic Leap Oneโ€™s spatial computing ability to provide unique and immersive experience to visitors.

In this project, we worked closely with Diana Johns, Vice President for Exhibits & Life Science of PacSci, and Laura Truศ›oiu, Lead Computer Scientist of Magic Leap. Diana and her team showed us the addressable problems in this project, whereas Laura and her team provided us the resources and technical consultations that enable this project.

Check out our featured project interview on UW iSchoolโ€™s website!โ€

We also archived our Unity code on Github.

Astronomy Exhibition Area
Astronomy Exhibition Area

โ“ Problem

Diana mentioned that children tend to run around and play rather than engaging with the exhibition content. Pacific Science Center want to increase the engagement of the astronomy exhibition, as well as including more information about the solar system. However, the exhibit area is very limited. The science Museum was also looking forward to invite people to interact with the latest technologies. They would like us to take advantage of the mixed reality technology provided by Magic Leap to bring the solar system within visitors reach.

๐Ÿ” Research

There are three main points we learnt from the previous mixed reality projects at Pacific Science Center. First, the application could introduce safety concerns because it requires the user to move around in the exhibition hall. We need to be aware of how our application affects the safety of the user and that of other visitors in the same space. Second, the educational outcomes were not clear in previous projects. We should focus on the learning goals starting from the initial design stage of our application. Third, the users were not clear on how to proceed in the game. We need to design tutorials and instructions carefully to provide users with good user experience.

Identifying target audience and goals

After touring the exhibit area and discussing our initial research findings, my team and our sponsors reached an agreement on the expectations for the project.

  1. Create an immersive and interactive learning experience. Focusing on educational outcome.
  2. Overcome spatial restrictions and present information more accurately.
  3. Encourage socialization among visitors

Although we visioned the game we build to have multiple levels to suit a wide age group, we decided to start on a smaller scope and focus our target audience on children from 5-8 grade.

Persona & goals
Persona & goals
Brief storyboard
Brief storyboard

Educational goal

Since we want to emphasize on the educational impacts of our project, I consulted our mentor, Johnny Cho, who focused much of his research on AR/VR in educational settings. I read through several research articles he shared with me and organized my notes on an article about AR and museum. Furthermore, I also investigated the Common Core State Standard and Earth Science textbooks to pinpoint some knowledge we can incorporate in our game.


๐Ÿ– Ideation

We spent about two weeks to finalize our storyboard. The process became unforeseeably difficult due to Covid. We weren't able to visit the museum anymore, and we had a hard time finding stakeholders to interview and receive feedbacks from.

Eventually, we drew inspiration from the game Keep Talking and Nobody Explode. Our game was designed to be highly collaborative and players would need to exchange information in order to solve their own puzzles.

The educational goal of the game is for the players to learn the positions of the planets, how they orbit, as well as some facts for each planets.

storyboard version 1storyboard version 2

๐Ÿ”จ Prototype

Building the game with Unity

While we were researching and creating the game flow, we also spent some time to familiarize ourselves with the hardware every week. I followed along the Magic Leap Developer documentation to help the team set up the headsets and deploy a simple cube simulation to start off the process.

With the designs and user flow decided upon, we began building our vision in Unity. We used the solar system model from the unity asset store and made some customizations for it to better fit our project.

Designing the UIs for the mixed reality game was a tricky part. We played and analyzed the existing games in the headset so we have a better understanding of where to place the objects around players.

First Iteration Experience Walkthrough

๐Ÿ’ญ Reflection

It was a huge disappointment that we couldn't obtain enough direct stakeholder feedback and improve our product from there. We also weren't able to bring our final product to the museum due to the pandemic and had to change the scope of our project accordingly.

However, I still learnt a lot about designing and developing for mixed reality from this project. To work with the new platform, I also spent extra time improving my skills in Unity and C#. I'm looking forward to more opportunities in the future where I can continue to design for immersive experiences. Hopefully next time, I could get concrete feedback of my design through user testing. I also wish to see more tangible impact of the product I create.


Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™Œ

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