“Augmented reality is dazzling when used appropriately. For example, when a tiny James May from BBC’s “Top Gear” explains why the Model-T is an important milestone in modern history, that’s an appropriately awesome use.”
Wired: “The Science Museum in London’s exhibit on the Making of the Modern World looks to be a wonderfully educational experience about how specific technologies have propelled human history forward. And the exhibit gets an interactive boost with the addition of the Science Stories app available for iOS ($3) and Android ($3.20). The app features “Top Gear” host and all-around technology fan James May waxing poetic on why advancements like the Eilean Glas lighthouse and Cray supercomputer deserve a special place in history.
The app doesn’t just present video of James May talking — it goes the extra step by delivering a three-dimensional avatar of James May. Basically, you launch the app and point your smartphone camera at a “marker” that the app recognizes as an area on which to project the James May avatar.
The overlay of Mr. May appears on your screen as a 3-D photo model, walking and talking just as the real man would if he were at the museum with you. You can adjust your smartphone’s view of the marker, and the avatar will adjust its orientation to the new view.
For example, if you view the maker straight on instead of at a 45-degree angle, you’re presented with the top of James May’s head. Walk in a circle around the marker, and you can see the avatar’s side and back views. Movements to the marker itself will also lead to corresponding changes in James May’s orientation.
In all, you’re provided with all the angles of James May you’ve ever wanted to see. And probably a few you didn’t.
Because traveling to London is cost-prohibitive for most users, the app can still deliver James May’s educational monologues without direct access to the museum’s markers. Simply go online, grab a downloadable marker (.pdf), and then print it out. Then fire up the app, and point your phone at the marker print-out — the James May avatar will pop up in all its British brilliance.
After James is finished telling you about the wonders of modern technology, you can take screenshots of him with you and your friends. Gadget Lab has found that it really can’t get enough of tiny James May. ”