The Unreal Garden: Multiplayer Mixed Reality
Posted; December 31, 2019
The Unreal Garden is an interactive, multiplayer mixed reality experience blending a beautiful, psychedelic forest landscape, multiple layers of sound, responsive projections, haptics, and augmented reality. Visitors are immersed within a magical world blending art and entertainment, and inhabited by fantastical flora and fauna.
You can conjure energy, cast spells, create rainbows at your fingertips, engage with other players, learn from the forest animals, and leave inspired. The creators’ vision was to use interactive technologies to bring people together, inspire collaboration, connection and community, and empower the creative within all of us.
The Unreal Garden was developed by Enklu in collaboration with global artists and visionaries. Enklu is a social reality platform that empowers creators with a platform and toolkit for easily creating, sharing, and experiencing mixed reality content, anywhere in the world.
The experience launched in San Francisco in October 2018. It was then adapted to become the premier experience at E3 2019.
Adding a haptic dimension to mixed reality
The original experience did not include haptics. After seeing Ultraleap's haptic technology in action at Augmented World Expo (AWE) 2019, the creators asked Ultraleap to work with them to add haptics into the E3 version of the experience.
Integrating haptics into an existing mixed reality experience
Ultraleap worked intensively with the Unreal Garden team to integrate four haptic devices into the mixed reality experience, without disrupting what was already working. The devices included both hand tracking and mid-air tactile effects.
The pinnacle of the Unreal Garden was a grotto containing four pillars. Ultraleap installed haptic devices on top of these. Visitors reaching out to touch an augmented orb hovering over the pillars experienced an ethereal, spherical tactile effect on their hands. It gave the impression that they really were touching a mysterious, magical object.
The light and sound effects in the area were also configured to react when visitors interacted with the orbs. Each additional visitor who placed their hand over one of the four pillars would add to the visual and audio landscape in the environment. Once all four pillars were simultaneously activated, a butterfly was projected onto the wall of the grotto and flew away.
A first for mixed reality in location-based entertainment – and a big success
The result was the first-ever location-based mixed reality experience with an interactive, multiplayer haptic game. Over the course of three days, 6,000 people experienced The Unreal Garden at E3, with people sometimes standing in line for over two hours and hugely positive media coverage.
Enklu and MESH are now rolling out new experiences across venues in the US and worldwide.