With a splash, SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord immersed in the world of augmented reality (AR), allowing visitors to “jump” the lives of aquarium inhabitants in new, immersive ways. The project is the first in the world to offer AR tour content on smart glasses in an aquarium setting.
SEA LIFE owner Merlin Entertainments has once again partnered with the Richmond, Virginia-based company. ARTGlassthe world leader in AR touring software, to create new waves in the world of tourism, like companies did when first using wearable augmented reality in a wax museum, Madame Tussauds.
The AR adventure is enjoyed on-site when visitors wear state-of-the-art transparent smart glasses, through which they can see, superimposed on their real views of sea animals, immersive digital magic that entertains and educates. For families with children under six, a second AR experience is available on tablets, so visitors of all ages can participate.
Guests are greeted by a beluga whale, “swim” with schools of clownfish, play a sea turtle rescue game, learn a dance called the stingray shuffle, and much more. The tour enhances, not replaces, the usual visitor experience – guests can put on and take off the glasses at their own pace to take advantage of the augmented and traditional display tanks.
Wearable AR is now at the forefront of touring technology for cultural attractions, as visitors can see hands-free, heads-up experiences with 3D and 360-degree visuals and surround sound that allow the user to feel part of the action. Studies show that immersive and interactive wearable technology provides intellectually and emotionally stimulating visits, helping sites differentiate their visitor experience in the competition for tourists hungry for something new.
The AR Tour also expands the current SEA LIFE experience by showcasing sea creatures too large or too rare to inhabit the facility and promotes conservation efforts by showcasing Merlin’s global efforts to protect endangered species.
“Our love for the ocean and its creatures goes beyond the exhibits,” said Erin McCarthy, CEO of SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord. “This visit inspires everyone to help keep our oceans clean and healthy for our underwater friends.”
Beasley, a rescued sea turtle and the aquarium’s newest star, makes his first appearance in augmented reality. The experiment also reveals hidden secrets about the other ‘FIN’tastic personalities in a 117,000 gallon aquarium.
Millions of visitors have enjoyed augmented reality experiences at nearly 100 iconic sites around the world, from the homes of America’s Founding Fathers to the ruins of ancient Pompeii in Italy. The SEA LIFE project is the first of its kind in North Carolina and the first in the world to tackle the complexity of augmenting the ever-flowing environment of a huge aquarium for all visitors. “We believe in AR with a purpose,” said Greg Werkheiser, co-founder and CEO of ARtGlass, “and we’re thrilled to help combine this compelling storytelling with a powerful call for curation.”
ARtGlass AR Experience Design Software TourBuilder works on all models of smart glasses; at SEA LIFE the experience is deployed on Moverio® smart glasses from frequent partner of ARtGlass Epson. “We commend the visionaries at Merlin and SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord for the boldness of this project, and we are thrilled to be part of another ARtGlass adventure,” said Remi Del Mar, Senior Product Manager of Digital Experiences, of AR and commercial display solutions, Epson America, Inc.
The AR Experience is available to the public from August 19, 2022 as part of the SEA LIFE Premium Ticket available for purchase online in advance at https://www.visitsealife.com/