Sailaab: An AR Projection-Mapping Concept

Interaction Design Oct 16, 2021

Predictions say that by 2090 the Gateway of India will be underwater, along with most of the Mumbai we know today. Adverse climate change is resulting in radical effects across the world, with one of the primary ones being drowning coastlines due to rising sea levels. The glamorous and exotic coast cities and destinations of this country, famous for their culture and their intriguing beauty, will convert into submerged wastelands over the coming decades, and according to experts, this future is inevitable.
The core idea was to fast forward to this future and show the people the reality and the direness of the situation, by taking advantage of augmented reality and projection mapping to bring the watery abyss to a real-world location, with crumbling architecture, abandoned cars, and abandoned hope. The intention is to make the visitors face the reality of the incoming calamity so that they can take mindful actions to prevent it. With a multitude of interactions with the relics of the past, The idea is to model the entire exhibit as a multiplayer survival “life-size” board game, where the players have to compete against each other and the environment to reach their destination without drowning due to the rising sea level, and aim to reach the extraction points to escape the city.

We pitched the same idea at Confluence Ideathon 2021 and qualified for the international top 10 under the Social Behaviour Category. Here was our pitch and concept demo video.


Inspiration

We all know about the rapid climate change that is heating up the
environment and leading to an increase in sea levels. There are various
campaigns to create awareness among people regarding the issue, with
varied success. We wanted to use technology and immersive experience
solutions to increase the effectiveness of these campaigns and showcase it
to the public in an innovative way. Initially a board game prototype, we
want to take this project forward and contribute in our way to making this
planet a better place. Our team comes from varied backgrounds, from
technology to design, and thus we want to create a solution which
incorporates both to create an impact and forces people to rethink about
the future that lies ahead.

Idea

We want to create a human-size board game, enhanced with immersive technologies like projection mapping and automated user interaction to increase the quality as well as the impact of the game on players.
The board game features a city, which is on the brink of being submerged due to increased sea levels. The players have to navigate to air-pickup points to survive this disaster. Being a turn-based game, we want to provide players with a realistic view of what the future beholds if the current trend of global warming is not curtailed.

Application

We will have projection mapping to give textures to various surfaces on the board. Be it waves of water, destruction of the environment or any effects, we plan to project it to surfaces using a set of projectors to give a realistic experience.
We will also include elements of user interaction, to have the players feel a real-time outcome of their actions in that situation.

Social Impact

This will help boost awareness for climate change through the innovative expression of the issue through technology. We hope that it adds to the ever-growing discussion on the topic and helps people appreciate the seriousness of the event. Given the flexibility of the solution, It can also be extended to showcase other events and give the visitors a unique and immersive experience that will force them to think about climate change and its consequences.

Prototype (Board Game)

A board game prototype taking Mumbai as the city was developed after studying various survival board games like Scotland Yard and A Prisoner’s Dilemma. A hexagonal grid was used to simplify the city's shape.

Routes plotted in yellow, follow roads and rail lines. They are designed to balance free movement and structured gameplay and provide multiple choices that must be made. Players must start at the purple (Gateway of India) and make their way to one of three winning spots in light green (Sanjay Gandhi National Park, mainland, and the Airport). The hexagonal map was divided into 9 layers as per actual topographical data, and each layer was cut and etched separately and later assembled into a three-dimensional board. Routes and landforms are denoted on the map by painting - a clean dot is painted in the centre of each hexagon to classify the kind of space it is. Other pieces to denote health, player tokens, collapsible buildings, end pieces were designed and cut out of the same material.

Gameplay

Citizens

The rules define certain variables which determine the survival of the citizens. These put simply, are

  • Health
  • Submersion

The health of the player is kept track of by the slider bar (one per player). Health is affected by various activities, reduced by performing actions and increased by taking food or medication.

A roll of a die determines the number of ‘actions’ a player may take per turn. These may be of three types:

  • Locomotion
  • Playing an action card
  • Playing an action card

Players may use these actions in the combinations they see most fit. A variety of action cards allow them to do things such as consume materials to increase health, double their locomotion per action, or thwart the actions of the city.

City

Each round of turns begins with the city making her move.

The aim of the city is to prevent the citizens from reaching their destinations, either by submerging them or bringing

their health to zero. The city has the ability to ‘flood’ the map at certain times. This ‘flooding’ affects one tier of the city (as depicted physically by the board). For a tier to flood, the tier under it must already have been flooded.

The city always keeps 3 ‘action cards’ from the city deck at hand. In each round, the city has 2 actions and may use them to either:

  • Play the cards in hand
  • Choose to draw more cards

The city may only play actions in a certain radius of a player. The cards provide opportunities such as disease, torrential rain, and buildings collapse. If a building or other obstacle blocks a path, the citizens must use extra actions to cross.

This was the prototype for the board game and we plan to use augmented reality and projection mapping to truly bring out the impact of this game.

Concept Pivot: AR Projection-Mapping Concept

The setup will be in a closed room, with multiple 3D objects and structures put around the room to project onto using an array of projectors to bring the visuals into reality and provide them depth using the structures. An array of IR cameras and sensors can track what the visitors are doing and interacting with and then feed this information back to the Unity3D engine handling the visuals so that the visuals can react to the visitors’ actions. Additional sensors like proximity sensors and/or IR sensors can provide more information about the entire area to afford more novel interactions. From simulating waves created while stepping on virtual water, to highlighting the quickest path to save oneself in the game, many interactions can be implemented to enhance the experience, highlighting the gameplay elements. The entire game experience can range from person vs person interactions to co-operation gameplay situations, where the players are working together to survive the landscape. The entire board can be modelled after existing coastal cities of the country, with identical elevations and major landmarks, so as to make the entire experience rooted in reality.

This entire tech can be scaled up according to the size and setting of the environment, and can be fitted to represent virtually any visualisation, to provide a realistic and immersive interactive environment for the visitors, and can be used to bring attention to various other social and societal issues.

Proof of Concept

I was able to come up with some dirty prototypes quickly using an old projector, my old laptop packaging and room wall as a screen to show a preliminary version of the projection-mapping concept.

Business Viability

We mapped out different business opportunities, strategies and threats that need to be addressed to further reinforce our idea as a viable business opportunity to be presented to the jury.

Concept Renders

Final Pitch

We presented the concept during the finale of the ideathon to the eminent jury and got generous feedback regarding how we can take the project ahead and understand the complications and shortcomings in the current pitch.

Although we didn't win our category, we do plan to take this idea ahead in the future and pitch it to other organisations.

Kudos to Team Nritya! It was fun working again with my co-CGs again.

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Rishabh Kumar

A product-oriented and grounded approach to design to create scalable and tangible solutions for organisations.

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