Farther is an AR tour for the Museum of Flight designed for the HoloLens. It provides a variety of guided tours, additional video, audio and interactive content, and improved accessibility for non-English speakers.
The Museum of Flight in Tukwila, WA is the world’s largest independent non-profit air and space museum.
Founded originally to preserve the aerospace technological heritage of the Pacific Northwest, the museum’s collection has grown to over 15,000 artifacts.
The Museum’s mission is to acquire, preserve and exhibit historically significant air and space artifacts and to provide a foundation for research and lifelong learning programs that inspire an interest in and understanding of science, technology, and the humanities.
Farther, a HoloLens AR tour, enhances exhibits by adding additional content and offering customized guides throughout the museum.
We began by researching the capabilities of the HoloLens headset and brainstorming a list of potential features that could be added to the museum experience. In considering what features to include we were guided by five main considerations:
Because the museum is a crowded space, voice commands take a secondary role so as not to disturb other guests.
When it is used, the activation phrase “Flight Deck” is required to avoid accidental activation.
We also incorporated Quick commands, basic functions that will have immediate visual feedback when activated and no confirmation, such as “Flight Deck, take a picture.”
Expected questions are mainly related to wayfinding or navigating to the help menu.
Though the interface uses light aviation terminology for a playful sense of the user as the “pilot,” it accepts more standard (“yes”/”no” ) inputs as well as aviation terminology (“affirmative”/”negative”).
Based on our research and out of consideration for other museum visitors, we decided to prioritize the graphical/gestural interface over voice interface. Since our users need to learn the system quickly, we designed a brief onboarding tutorial to introduce the basics of the gestural interface to the user. Although its fairly intuitive, we began by introducing the concept of “gaze”.
In order aid speedy onboarding, we kept our gesture library restricted to 3 primary gestures.
Currently the museum’s content is unevenly distributed across exhibits. Some instillation have very little written content while other areas have an overwhelming amount of information.
There are also wide range of lighting conditions and a mix of actual planes, smaller artifacts, images, and written content throughout the museum.
Considering these factors, we decided to primarily focus our AR features on the hangers of aircraft since there is less written content in those areas and they could be improved by additional information. These areas are as follows:
Using the museum’s brand palette, we created a color-coded system for visual content within the museum.
Our visual library, specifically branded for the museum of flight, corporates aviation eyewear for the different tour icons, and uses small elements of delight to quietly direct the user’s attention to easy to miss or particularly exciting items (i.e. the astronaut floats up to point out the satellite that is easy to miss).
We purposefully made our visual elements simple so as not to be distracting but also easy to read and learn quickly.
We considered several ways that a new user may have trouble with the HoloLens and created several ways the program can help resolve these issues.
We also put a lot of thought into how visual elements would move and at what distance they would appear so to ensure ease of use without distracting from the content of the exhibit. We do not want the user to feel the need to remove the glasses due to being visually overwhelmed.