For my Senior project I am creating an Augmented Reality Android application currently entitled Augment Universe. This is an app that functions as a means of communion or practice for a fictional religion. In the app, users scan images which would generate 3D game content. Each sigil can be activated within the app and subsequently a ritual can be performed. By completing the game-like rituals, the user can better understand this religion and progress through the more game like aspects, collecting rituals and sigil icons alike. Taking a quasi science fictional approach, the application would integrated image recognition of both corporate logos and religious icons and symbols alike, drawing connections between the two. This is intended as a discussion of ritual as form of control, AR as form of control, and the proliferation of corporate entities. The project draws from Benjamin Bratton’s concepts regarding the nonsecular uses of Augmented Reality and its ability to destroy the metaphor of religion as well as from Walter Benjamin’s work regarding ritual and image ‘auras’.
Augment Universe is an Android application using the Unity game engine, the Vuforia Augmented Reality framework, and Parse as its backend.
Using the Vuforia framework, the application detects images that exist within the parse database. This database consists of both offline images on the device, and a faster, cloud-based database that can have up to 1,000 images. The cloud-based architecture allows the app to load scenes equally as fast on any device. Once the image is detected, the corresponding 3D scene is pulled up in Unity. Then, Vuforia tracks the movements relative to each of the images and adjust the graphics to make it appear as if the scenes are a cohesive, mixed reality.
The project also involves the integration of Parse, a back end database api that integrates easily with Unity. This is used to create accounts, logins, and to track the progress of each user. Ritual databases are generated each time a user scans a sigil and performs a ritual. Through this, the application intimately generates a mythology around the player's journey, searching for previous associations of characters to images in the user's account.