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Japanese aquarium uses penguins to make the best AR app ever

In Summary


Turn-by-turn navigation has changed how many of use get around, but apparently we’ve been doing it all wrong this whole time. The Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo has found the missing element in all of our walking directions: penguins.

July 18, 2014

Written by: Russell Holly

Japanese aquarium uses penguins to make the best AR app ever

It is not particularly easy to locate the Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo anymore. This 35-year-old facility noticed a significant drop in attendance over the last couple years, and the biggest reason for this, according to the Aquarium, was the volume of distractions that made it difficult to just stumble upon the facility and spend a day there. To solve this problem, an augmented reality (AR) app was built to help would-be Aquarium visitors locate the facility by giving very clear directions to the facility. Unlike every other GPS app out there, however, this app worked by having a team of penguins lead you to the facility.

Japanese aquarium uses penguins

While augmented reality is certainly nothing new, and the idea of presenting directions on your screen through your camera as a result of AR has been done before, the inclusion of penguins was unique on several levels. To start, the team responsible for the app used motion capture tech through 10 different cameras to capture the actual movements of penguins found at the aquarium. These penguins were then processed into CG and added to the app in order to make their movements as accurate as possible when leading you to your destination.

Japanese aquarium uses penguins

According to the Sunshine Aquarium, this AR app resulted in a 152% increase in traffic through their facility. The app is currently available on iOS and Android as an accessory to the Junaio AR app.

If you have Junaio installed, you just head to the Penguin Navi website, and you’ll be presented with a link that will load the penguins into the app and start their journey to the Aquarium. This doesn’t work particularly well when you aren’t in Japan, but you can still watch as the penguins waddle about on your screen even if they can’t get you to the destination they were programmed to guide you to.

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