Skin & Bones is my most recent adventure in connecting people with science and nature – a mobile app that I helped produce, design and created content for. A technology advanced tool to engage the visitors to the Bone Hall at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, with animal anatomy and evolution. Skin & Bones was the recipient of a prestigious Gold MUSE Award for Games and Augmented Reality and has received considerable attention from the media.
User Experience and User Interface
Skin & Bones is a content-rich app featuring videos, interactives and augmented reality experiences. It can be used in the Bone Hall or anywhere in the world to learn about 13 animals, through stories about their natural history, interviews with the scientists that study them, large scientific ideas they represent and the mechanisms of their bones. The interface of the app was inspired by the retro look of the exhibit, and the richness of content was the result of the hard work of a team that involved museum curators, one educator and one software developer, animators, and audio and video producers, in addition to myself who created the 2D and 3D illustrations.
Augmented Reality, or AR as it is commonly referred to, when used through a smartphone or tablet, can combine the image of our surroundings with virtual content that is superimposed onto the real image on the device’s screen. Watch the video and you’ll understand how the skeletons in the Bone Hall are brought to life through this promising technology. The experience of museum visitors with AR is the subject of my doctoral research in digital media and it’s been fascinating to study how we all can connect to science with facilitation by technology and rich imagery.
3D Digital Illustration
The 3D static and animated models that are part of the AR experiences were created in a variety of ways. Some built from scratch like the Swordfish and Steller’s Sea Cow. Others optically scanned like the Blue Catfish. And yet others like the Anhinga or Vampire Bat were CT scanned or micro-CT scanned.
Signage & Promotion
Skin & Bones is advertised in the Museum and in different Smithsonian Institution websites, through materials I created that helped spread the word upon the release on January 13 2015. The app was well received by the media with complementing articles that you can read here or here.