In drastic departure from my my original intention, I decided to resurface an old idea and use AR to enhance it: understanding Beer. For my programming design final last year, I tried to create a visual system for understanding certain metrics (bitterness, color, category) of beer.
Beer is both delicious and surprisingly complicated, as is any fermented product since the final outcome can only be controlled to a point. Beer is also a luxury item which means people are often willing to take the time to understand how it tastes and what goes into the process of making it. This is important in designing an AR experience as people do have to go out of their way to download an app and bring out their phones to use it.
While I know using AR to display information about a product, particularly food-related, isn’t incredibly novel, I think beer is suited for this use since people often take the time to really savor and understand what they are consuming and there is no room on a beer label for such info. [I’m generally for increased knowledge about whatever it is you are consuming] I also think it can be more informal (and less complex) than wine, which is why I started here. While the final flavor of beer results from a number of factors, I think being able to view some of the ingredients and identify categories over time would help create a more discerning palate. It’s like learning the language of beer organically: experiential learning.
At first I had wanted to use some of my previous designs as the image targets for beer, but I realized that most beer bottles naturally have their own perfect image targets: labels.
I started with Brooklyn Brewery beers since their labels are well contained and they also have detailed documentation on their products. I also relied on Under The Label for more details. Ideally, it would be cool to make an API that this information could be pulled from and to which all breweries would contribute.
I was next trying to figure out what information to display. Some ideas I was playing with: history, ingredients, hops, malt, yeast, ecological footprint, location, taste. Ultimately I decided on a mixture of these, but I do think that this is an area I could play with a bit, but ended up taking a back seat to some of the purely technical issues and development.
Seeing as I wanted to display multiple sets of info, I decided to dive into Vuforia Virtual Buttons, the idea being that obscuring notable parts of the image targets can cue an event. I thought it might be nice to have a “button” on the physical object since you would be holding the beer in your hand, most likely, so then you would just have to move your fingers around on the one hand since the other hand would have the phone. I got this to work pretty well with my hand.
Some of the technical issues revolved around displaying multiple ‘screens’ of info. I suppose I was having a button code logic issue. I could get the flow of the screens down in one direction, but not the other (ie. You can toggle form hops to food cleanly, but not the other way around).
Ultimately, where I got to can be seen below, with the icons serving as virtual buttons. I also added sounds that trigger with each page, just for some more user feedback.
Bottle opening with app:
In the future, I would definitely take the notes from Rui (below) to make the augmented images more stable and easier to trigger. The buttons also need some work, since they can be a bit fickle. I would also play with some of the content and design.
Notes from Rui: Use cylindrical image target, add autofocus into code for app