The status of Augmented reality as a new medium for storytelling has already led to the reinvention of filmmaking and journalism.
Now AR helps non-profit organizations to draw attention to their respective causes.
Monday, non-profit environment Sea Shepherd and digital studio Resn have launched a web-based augmented reality experience that illustrates the problem of bycatch, a notion in the fishing industry for animals other than the desired species of fish caught by fishing boats. The practice has resulted in more than 11,000 dolphins being killed off the French west coast in 2019 alone.
"Our goal is to shed light on what bycatch really is: the systematic eradication of marine life," says Rik Campbell, global management director of Resn, in a statement. "It's the dirty little secret of the fishing industry and for some reason it's all perfectly legal."
Visible via mobile browsers with iOS and Android, Under the Surface AR starts with a "small planet" anchored in the user's environment. Squeezing the touchscreen zooms in on a 360-degree immersive environment that simulates an underwater scene showing dolphins caught in fishing nets, with dead by-catch dolphins being thrown away by the fishing boat above the depth of the ocean.
"We use AR to transform the reality of the ocean into yours," said Simon Jullien, creative director of Resn. "We have made it browser-based, so there is nothing to download. Unlike a native app that can use existing AR platforms, we have developed our own AR approach that can be used in a browser."
Augmented reality has grown in popularity as a means to investigate a number of complex problems. For example, Snapchat has helped organizations raise awareness of issues such as malaria and climate change, while Magic Leap has served as a medium for exploring homelessness in the US.
Meanwhile, The New York Times USA Today and Time have all applied their AR story practice to shed light on air pollution, the Boeing 737 Max aircraft and the Amazon rainforest.
If augmented reality continues to evolve towards regular acceptance, we can look forward to more sobering AR experiences such as those that highlight important issues by immersing ourselves in another reality.