‘Like you’re there’

At SIGGRAPH in LA this year, Epic Games was privately demo’ing ‘Apollo 11: Mission AR’ experience that was built for the Microsoft HoloLens 2 with Unreal Engine. I tried it out, and it really was incredible.

I have to admit I’ve been skeptical of AR and VR experiences in the past. But there was something different about this one. I think it may even been simply how high quality the images in front of my eyes were. I haven’t seen them like that before.

How it worked was, I went to a room with an empty black round table, donned the HoloLens 2 and then watched as the Apollo 11 mission unfolded before me.

The experience combines physically-based rendering, volumetric effects and holographic elements while the launch of the Saturn V, complete with commentary and info-graphics, plays out.

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I could walk around the table and see it from different angles, and at times I felt like I could reach out and touch the animation. All of this was run – wirelessly – from a desktop computer off to the side.

Apollo 11: Mission AR
That’s me trying to reach out and touch the rocket.

The video above shows the demo in action. I feel like this is something that would work so well as almost an arcade experience, and possibly a shared experience. Seemed like a pretty great way to learn about scientific things, too.

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