The mixed reality Unreal Garden experience was a standout feature of E3 2019. Co-creators Enklu and Leila Amirsadeghi (former co-founder Onedome) worked with Ultrahaptics to integrate virtual touch technology and enhance the experience with a unique multiplayer interaction.
“When visitors reached out, they found they could actually touch augmented reality energy balls. They felt a physical sensation and could activate projections on the surrounding area. People loved it! It was such a pleasure to watch players’ surprise and delight.” – Leila Amirsadeghi – CEO, MESH
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 Ultrahaptics’ technology in action at Augmented World Expo (AWE) 2019, the creators asked Ultrahaptics to work with them to add haptics into the E3 version of the experience.
“I personally witnessed how haptics could enhance immersive storytelling when I saw Ultrahaptics’ Crystal Cave VR demo at AWE. After trying it I said straight away, ‘We need you guys at E3.’ I stood right there in the Ultrahaptics booth and started making calls to the logistics team.” – Heather Gallagher, Vice-President of Product, Enklu
Integrating haptics into an existing mixed reality experience
Ultrahaptics 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 Leap Motion hand tracking and Ultrahaptics’ mid-air tactile effects.
The pinnacle of the Unreal Garden was a grotto containing four pillars. Ultrahaptics 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
“With the Unreal Garden, we wanted to create something social and connected. We wanted to bring people together. Adding touch into the virtual world and using it to create a multiplayer interaction was totally in tune with that. It was great how straightforward it was to integrate Ultrahaptics’ technology into our existing experience. Using it, we created something that’s never been done before.” – Leila Amirsadeghi – CEO, MESH
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.