TechHive Fall 2017: Day 8 // AR Urban Landscape Project Update

By: Catherine Zhao

Our team is currently working on the modeling of a city-integrated renewable energy for sustainability projects. As urban environments continue to experience sharp rises in population density, they are becoming increasingly responsible for global climate change by the emission of greenhouse gases. By exploring alternative energy sources and visualizing the possibilities for the reduction of energy consumption in daily life, we hope that our approach will expose the general public to the real implications of their energy usage.

Hybrid cars and carpooling are represented as potential solutions to high emissions, as well as encouraging individuals to walk or bike to locations. Improved infrastructure will allow support for creating renewable energy technologies, increased energy efficiency, and more widespread energy generation systems. More large-scale projects could include harnessing wind energy, which has the potential to resolve concerns related to the combustion of fossil fuels.

Alternatively, plans to utilize biomass energies are a possibility, although many proponents agree that the current processes produce low power densities and are often reliant on the regional climate and temperature cycles. We propose a variety of behavioral decisions that can significantly impact the overall emission rates from cities: each mundane choice seems to only minimally affect our own personal lives, but the overall outcome reflects a much more momentous shift towards a sustainability. Our suggestions include the more well-known tips for energy conservation, including turning off lights and taps when not in use and cutting down on shower times and unplugging devices.

By implementing an experience that utilizes augmented reality and audiovisual components, we hope to express how our daily lives are intertwined with our relationship to the environment around us. For example, in order to better represent how our water usage can be shrunk, we added audio of water rushing in order to trigger auditory stimuli and enhance the reality of the situation. Featured in the box are multiple pedestrians who are walking to work and their respective locations; this is the method of reducing energy consumption that we would like to present to visitors at the museum. Besides the people commuting to work, bikers, passengers on public transport, and carpooling in hybrid cars are also potential alternatives that are exaggerated in our virtual world. As the city fades to night, lights flicker on around multiple high-rises, although tips quickly pop out near the periphery of the user's vision that remind them to be conscious of their water usage late at night and to cut down electricity.

Even though programs and flyers in the past have promoted these practices, we strongly believe that younger children and visitors at the museum will be more inclined to actually implement our suggestions and tips if they are able to experience and learn about them firsthand and in more personalized augmented reality interactions. 

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Meet Catherine Zhao:

In the past year, I have been exposed to data structures and other programming concepts. I initially didn't believe that data structures would be so interesting, but I found myself truly enjoying the learning process. I was able to complete a variety of projects (including a pseudo-machine learning text analyzer, chess, solitaire, tetris, breakout, etc). After enrolling in data structures, I took UCSD's data structures course on Coursera to challenge myself to complete harder projects. On the side, I have explored some practical applications of tech in designing scientific visualizations (for demonstrating the effects of seasonal influenza viruses on cystic fibrosis patients). A few of my friends and I also participated in a small hackathon and created an app designed to improve the standard of public safety and promote community unity for our city. As a TechHive intern at the Lawrence Hall of Science, I'm working along side other interns to create an interactive museum exhibit implementing an augmented reality experience. Our goal is to educate museum visitors about the effects of our carbon footprint in an urban landscape in a fun and immersive way.