Havas Fellowship: Prototyping the Augmented Island

Historical Storytelling for Visitors

Mobile augmented reality promises to change visitor experiences at museums, entertainment venues, universities and tourism venues around the world, such as NYC’s Governors Island.

Working with Havas and the Trust for Governors Island, NYC Media Lab put together five teams of NYC graduate students to employ their VR/AR and AI skills to tell stories in interactive and responsive ways, providing novel use cases for the City’s tourism sector.

In just a short amount of time, teams were able to build prototype experiences—ranging from a chatbot that activates historical information across the Island's distinct landmarks, to an augmented reality application that explores how Governors Island has been engineered to fight climate change.

Graduate students from NYU, The New School and CUNY were recruited from NYC Media Lab’s university consortium to participate, and received funding to design new, immersive prototypes intended to shed light on Governors Island history and culture.

Left: SEE LEVEL; Right: GLIMPSE: Inventing America.

Throughout the 8-week prototyping process, fellows were given $5,000 and access to the 172-acre island for concept development during the parks’ off-season, access to a range of documents from the Trust for Governors Island’s archives, and ongoing mentorship from Havas executives in creative direction and experience design.

At a Demo Day on Governors Island, the teams had their prototypes on view for visitors for interaction and experimentation. Leadership from Havas, NYC Media Lab and Governors Island selected a winning project to receive an additional $10,000 to further advance a prototype to become a visitor destination on the island and to also serve as a model for how interactive technology can be used within the culture and tourism space. The winning prototype will be refined this summer for launch at the close of the 2018 public season on the island. Funding was made possible with the support of partners at the Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology.

IslandAR by Cécile Ragot

IslandAR by Cécile Ragot

The award was given to Cécile Ragot—a student in the EON Reality Program at CUNY Lehman College—for her project, IslandAR. IslandAR uses mysterious wooden puzzle pieces installed at various locations on the island to unlock shared AR experiences, hidden characters and fun stories from past and present.

The project was compelling to the judges because it both offered a physical artifact to interact with—puzzle pieces—while also using technology—geolocation and mobile augmented reality to create something very beautiful and accessible to the families and kids that frequently visit Governors Island. In addition to receiving the award to expand her project, Cécile will start an internship at Havas this summer, which will give her further opportunity to work with the creative team that mentored her as she created IslandAR.

Participating prototypes are listed below...

School: CUNY Lehman / EON Reality
Team Member: Cécile Ragot
IslandAR provides mysterious puzzle pieces that unlock shared AR experiences, hidden characters and fun stories from past and present on Governors Island.

NYU Integrated Digital Media
Team Members: Emir Fils-Aime, Gabriella Cammarata, Najma Dawood-McCarthy Dandelion imagines a hidden, shape-shifting future museum exhibit that when discovered users can contribute their own wishes for their vision of NYC as well as listen to the wishes of previous visitors.

GLIMPSE: Inventing America
NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program
Team Members: Roi Lev, Anastasis Germanidis
GLIMPSE: Inventing America is an AR experience that takes the user back to the 1620s and the arrival of immigrants in what is now New York City. 

Parsons MFA Design + Technology
Team Members: Lauren Malkani, Paolo Villanueva, Aarati Akkapeddi
SEE LEVEL is an augmented reality application that explores how Governors Island has been engineered to fight climate change.  Visitors will experience rising sea levels first-hand, see the geoengineering inside "The Hills" and explore a new future for NYC.

GuideBot to Governors Island
NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP)
Team Member: Charlie Moffett, Gaurav Bhardwaj, Isha Chaturvedi
GuideBot to Governors Island is a Chatbot that guides visitors and shares local history as they explore the island. The bot responds to users queries and learns from every interaction to improve the experience.