My group of peers and I were tasked with finding a problem that currently exists in cities and make an AR proof of concept that can improve a city experience. From growing up in a rural city, I pitched the idea of making an industrial design that can help arborists and resident owners connect. Living surrounded by a forest meant that as landowners, my family needed to keep an eye out for trees that could be a potential threat to falling on our home, car, or family members. Our team came up with the idea of "Cedar", an augmented reality application that connects people to an arborist company and allow both the user and the arborist to track the appointment and pay for the services through the application.
Through research we found that maintenance workers report issues first if they spot a possible problem in city parks and public spaces, but even they are not fully qualified to assess whether an arborist is needed or not. Landowners in the urban cities have the same pain-point of not knowing when a tree can pose a threat to their space. People do not know what is worth calling arborist and as a result the arborists experience a flood of requests.
With Cedar, residents and community members can be educated and send in requests to arborists in a quick and uniform way. In turn, arborists will get a better estimate of time as they can see issue beforehand and can track and process payments more conveniently by having everything documented the same way. Residents also benefit from the application as they will also be able to track the progress of their request, as well as get some high level knowledge about the greenery around their home. Below is a high level system map with Cedar placed in moments of possible connection for all users.
Another functionality of Cedar is that residents can track the progress of the arborists services and process through a digital journal that allows them to take pictures of their greenery with an AR overlay and take notes beside the image. By mending the broken communication between the two parties, greenery problems will be solved with clarity and speed.
To illustrate our idea for a presentation we made an orthographic foam core tree with different foliage patterns as the target to Vuforia. We wanted to show the basic functionality of the application by having Cedar scan a tree and animate facts about that tree as an overlay.
Our 3d target went through many renditions as we tried to make a working proof of concept. Originally we had the idea of taking two orthographic views of a tree and sliding them together to make a short of 3 dimensional foam core tree.
We planed on having eight targets for Unity to pick up on, each half of an orthographic view being a different tree target. The problem with having these eight targets was the shadows that were being cast on each other from the natural overhead lighting. This paired wth the diagonal plane the target was on made it glitchy and hard for Unity to pick up the targets.
The solve for this was to reduce to two major targets instead. The targets became bigger, target taking up one orthographic view, and the shadows became less disrupting. By making the target bigger and lighting our tree well, we were able to get a consistent AR overlay working in our proof of concept.