Bringing the dinosaurs to life with AR

Psittacosaurus comes to life

Dinosaur rEvolution: Secrets of Survival at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is delighting audiences with a special interactive experience that allows visitors to meet a ‘live’ dinosaur face-to-face in the exhibition.

TMAG has partnered with Tasmanian Company, Handbuilt Creative to use Augmented Reality (AR) technology within Dinosaur rEvolution for the first time. Handbuilt Creative is spearheading Australia’s charge into next-generation AR, being one of the first companies on the planet to place dynamic 3D experiences into real life locations - to the amazement of end-users.

Visitors can see a Psittacosaurus come to life with 'Uist', Handbuilt Creative's mobile-based AR platform. The AR element is a special addition to the exhibition at TMAG and has been made possible with support from the Friends of TMAG.

TMAG’s Deputy Director of Engagement, Mr Andy Baird said that TMAG was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Handbuilt Creative to showcase the latest, most advanced AR technology within Dinosaur rEvolution for the benefit of visitors.

“As far as I’m aware, this type of technology has never been used in a museum context before. It makes a rich learning moment when the AR experience and the dinosaur environment created in the TMAG gallery connect in dynamic real time to bring the dinosaur ‘alive’.”

“Great care has been taken to match the physical environment in both the AR and the real world TMAG exhibit with the actual rock strata in China where the fossil was found.”

The developers at Handbuilt conducted extensive research into the anatomy, palaeontology and zoology of dinosaurs to match the latest scientific estimations of the Psittacosaurus in terms of shape, form, skin pigmentation and plumage to ensure that it as life-like as possible.

“David and Tim from the Handbuilt team used their background knowledge in zoology and anatomy to make very informed decisions about the animal’s movement, muscle structures and stance to give more lifelike animation within the AR experience,” Mr Baird said.

Dinosaur rEvolution is presented in partnership with The Royal Society of Tasmania (TRST) as part of the Society’s 175th anniversary celebrations. President of TRST, Professor Ross Large said he was delighted to see this exciting addition to the exhibition at TMAG.

“The fossil Psittacosaurus, un-earthed in China, provides a piece of key evidence that some dinosaur species had quills and feathers. This is beautifully shown in the AR animation”, Professor Large said.

Development of the AR

Wireframe of Psittacosaurus

Image: Development of the Psittacosaurus AR, courtesy of Handbuilt Creative

To get an even better experience at TMAG, visitors can download the Uist app to their personal mobile device, which allows the visitor to view the enthralling AR experience from any angle.

Once leaving the exhibition, the app provides access to over sixty AR experiences commissioned by other organisations all around Tasmania that can be experienced as visitors travel around the state, commencing with the launch of the Tasmanian Stories – Augmented Experiences project in Brighton last month.

A further fifty new experiences will be released on the Uist app in the coming weeks at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival, West Coast Wilderness Railway, Ross, and in the Huon Valley amongst other innovative AR projects.

Handbuilt’s Founder and Creative Director, Mr David Shering, said “we’re on the brink of an amazing technology revolution where we finally get digital content in a far more visual and human way through placing jaw-dropping, photorealistic 3D objects into the real world as if they actually exist”.

“The TMAG Dinosaur AR is arguably one of the most photorealistic animated AR experiences ever made”, Mr Shering said.

David Shearing and Tim McLeod

Image (L-R): David Shering and Tim McLeod from Handbuilt Creative

President of the Friends of TMAG, Mr John Sexton said he was delighted that the Friends could play a significant role in helping TMAG make this exciting new museum experience such a vital part of the Dinosaur rEvolution exhibition.

“The Friends of TMAG are proud to support the vision of TMAG in bringing this futuristic form of education into the exhibition, especially since it is created by a small Tasmanian company making a name for itself in driving brilliant innovations like this”.

“And it is a real pleasure to see the excitement on the faces of visitors of all ages when they enter the world of Augmented Reality. TMAG should be congratulated for successfully taking this daring step into the future of museum experience”, Mr Sexton said.

Friends of TMAG with Andy Baird

Image (L-R): John Sexton (Friends), David Coleman (Friends), Andy Baird (TMAG), Julie Hawkins (Friends), David Shering (Handbuilt Creative)

The Dinosaur AR experience is only available within Dinosaur rEvolution at TMAG. Visitors can download the Uist app onto their mobile device (compatible with iPhone6s or above) or use one of the iPads in the gallery for the AR experience. 

Dinosaur rEvolution: Secrets of Survival is presented in partnership with The Royal Society of Tasmania and runs from 7 December 2018 to 5 May 2019 at TMAG. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

Find out more about becoming a Friend of TMAG here.

AR in action