impact

New #CleanSeas augmented reality experience merges the real world and the virtual

Pamphlets and pop-up ads are so last year. Augmented reality is creating unique new opportunities to raise awareness and reach audiences. It works by stacking elements of virtual reality onto real life and allows people to experience environmental issues like never before.

A new Clean Seas augmented reality experience created by Singapore creative technology studio MeshMinds now allows audiences to immerse themselves in the challenge of tackling the marine litter problem.

Working with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Singaporean artist, André Wee, MeshMinds created a virtual ocean teaming with sea creatures made from plastic waste. Through a simple interaction, people are able to “clean” the sea and make a social pledge that they can easily share online.

image

Kay Vasey, Chief Connecting Officer of MeshMinds, says augmented reality can be a game changer. “We can track engagement and impact. We find that the dwell time on such augmented reality experiences is significantly longer compared to viewing static content. The level of interactivity helps people engage more with the problem of ocean pollution.”

And that time spent virtually immersed in the issue pays dividends in the real world.

“We are seeing that this translates into conscious buying decisions and people sharing that they intend to change their plastic consumption habits,” says Vasey.

The augmented reality experience was created for Singapore ArtScience Museum’s Climate S.O.S – Season of Sustainability. This month-long showcase was designed to create connections between the habits of consumers in Asia and the impact of climate change in the Arctic and the oceans.

“ArtScience Museum has a deep commitment to sustainability,” said Honor Harger, the Museum’s Executive Director. “Over the past five years, we have staged several exhibitions, programmes and educational activities that send a clear message about the urgency of taking action to address environmental threats such as climate change and biodiversity loss. Having worked on several projects that investigate the critical issues faced by rainforests in South East Asia, Climate S.O.S switches focus to the sea and the polar regions, with a series of projects that encourage our visitors to take action to protect these ecosystems.”

image

The use of art in the augmented reality experience builds on work done by artists worldwide to create awareness of environmental issues. For World Environment Day in 2018, a dozen large art pieces focused on plastic pollution were installed across Asia and the Pacific, including in Singapore.

Art can create far greater awareness and engagement on climate communications due to the visual and visceral nature of the medium, says Adam Hodge, UNEP’s Regional Information Officer for Asia and the Pacific. “Artists can have an important impact on issues like climate change and marine litter. By combining their medium with augmented reality, we can deliver some incredibly powerful messages.”

Though created for the ArtScience Museum exhibition in Singapore, everyone can try the augmented reality experience. Simply visit http://l.ead.me/cleanseas to try. Then snap a photo or video and share with your network to encourage your friends and family to do the same.