A brand-new app allows users to visualize and create virtual Appalachian gardens anywhere. The AR Perpetual Garden App, an educational tool featuring botanically correct 3D plant models, is a collaboration between Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Nature Reserve, The University of Central Florida’s The Harrington Lab, and the program MultiMedia Technology of the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences.
The app uses augmented reality (AR) to both educate and inspire. Users can project AR flowers onto any flat surface to create gardens anywhere they go. Imagine spilling springtime blooms all over the floor of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Botany Hall or experiencing the springtime gardens onsite at Powdermill when the ground is actually covered in snow. Using immersive AR to enrich learning opportunities, the app aims to connect the inside with the outside, while not replacing the outdoor experience.
“I’m excited to be using this new platform to unpack important stories for visitors. It connects our research to new media in ways we couldn’t have imagined five years ago,” says Eric Dorfman, Daniel G. and Carole L. Kamin Director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Two scientific visualizations of how deer over-population impacts Appalachia are key to the educational component of the app and are meant to be a springboard for scientific questions and discussions. “The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has initiated experiments regarding the long-term effects of deer browsing in combination with various forest management practices to learn how we can restore a healthy understory at Powdermill Nature Reserve,” says John Wenzel, Director of Powdermill Nature Reserve.
The Woodland in Balance visualization shows how lush the woods were before deer began over-browsing in the area, while the Woodland Out of Balance scenario shows how deer have degraded the forest in many areas. Looking at the two scenes through 3D augmented reality with ambient sounds based on insect and bird data gives a much deeper understanding of the issue than photos or charts.
The app was intended to provide an experience that visitors can enjoy either on actual woodland paths at Powdermill Nature Reserve or among the dioramas of the exhibitions at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. However, it can be used to create enriching experiences anywhere like schools, other museums, and at home.
The AR Perpetual Garden App is an offshoot of The Virtual Garden Timeline project, a website that displays plants that could be in bloom at Powdermill Nature Reserve throughout the year, with many AR and VR 3D plant models usable for education. On the website, there is a thumbnail of each plant that visitors can click on for more information. The timeline can be accessed through the app or directly at virtualgarden.powdermill.org.
The AR Perpetual Garden app works only with mobile phones that support ARCore (Android) or ARKit (Apple).
ARCore requires Android 7.0 or later, on some models also Android 8.0. For a list of supported devices see ARCore Supported Devices.
AR Required means that your app is not usable without AR and makes your app available only on devices that support ARCore. It requires ARCore downloaded and installed on device.
ARKit requires iOS 11 and later. It also works on older Apple devices that contain the correct chip (A9, A10, A11). For a list of supported devices see iOS Device Compatibility Reference.
In summary, the supported devices are:
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
iPad Pro (9.7, 10.5 or 12.9) – both first-gen and 2nd-gen
Dr. John Wenzel
Director of Powdermill Nature Reserve at Carnegie Museum of Natural History
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR APP CREATORS
Dr. John Wenzel, Director of Powdermill Nature Reserve: 724-593-4555, WenzelJ@CarnegieMNH.Org
Dr. Maria C. R. Harrington, Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida: 407-823-4365, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Markus Tatzgern: FH-Professor, Salzburg University of Applied Sciences: 43 50 2211-1256 email@example.com
DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT CREDITS
Dr. Maria C. R. Harrington, Zack Bledsoe, Chris Jones, and Alexandra Guffey: University of Central Florida
Dr. John W. Wenzel, Martha Oliver, and Bonnie L. Isaac: Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Dr. Markus Tatzgern, Tom Langer and Radomir Dinic: Salzburg University of Applied Sciences