MEAL* (Middle East Architecture Lab) was approached by Apple Dubai to develop a program that invites participation from Apple Store visitors of different age groups and backgrounds.
MEAL* chose to work with Augmented Reality (AR), exploring the possibilities that the technology can offer, within an interdisciplinary design paradigm.
‘Apple Design Residency’ is a project that is the first of its kind at Apple Inc. The premise of the residency is to work with a third-party organization on a series of workshops at the Apple store, for one day a week over a span of a month, within a two-hour allocation.
The workflow which was eventually adopted worked around using only an iPad. We started the design process by sketching ideas on Procreate. We then used uMake, an app available on the App Store to 3D model designs using the Apple Pencil, and view them directly in AR using the App.
The program’s sessions commenced with a brief introduction to MEAL, and the possibilities that AR presents to designers as a tool of presentation and visualization. The objective of each session was to facilitate AR as a tool, empowering designers to explore the use of this technology to leverage their work. Each session was unique, and covered a different feature of Augmented Reality (AR), as made possible by Apple’s native ARKit and Apple devices.
The intuitive and agile nature of Augmented Reality as a technological tool made this a fun experience for participants of different age groups and professional backgrounds. The project attracted participants from different walks of life and varying demographics. All participants were able to produce an AR model by the end of the Residency and were exposed to the benefits of having a mobile workflow on the iPad as well as the advantages of AR as a powerful design tool.
The research for this project started with developing small augmented reality apps using Unity (3D modeling software) and AR Kit (AR coding sequences) on X code (Programming shell) which was a code ultimately written in Swift (Mac OS native programming language)
We developed 4 AR apps to showcase our work at our counter part MEAN* (Middle East Architecture Network):
1- App for opening a portfolio using an image trigger from our business card.
2- App for testing the positioning the design of a 3D printed bus-stop at various spots in the city.
3- App for an immersive experience of walking through a 3D printed bridge using animated characters and environment.
4- Converting a .3ds of a 3D Printed Lamp X MEAN* to .udz object into Mac OS platform for AR.
The process of producing these apps wasn’t exactly the most straight forward. Alternating between MacBook Pro, an iPad and iPhone was also quite cumbersome. The project took a simpler turn to be able to make use of the time allocated for the residency.