Proving that augmented reality can transform an important story into a remarkable, interactive experience, Red Bull TV and eyecandylab came together to invite viewers to join the expedition of explorer Will Gadd’s The Last Ascent from their own homes. Along with Google TV they created an immersive AR rendition of this influential documentary – an experience so compelling, it became a nominee for a Sports Emmy, sharing the virtual stage with Super Bowl LV.
In 2014, explorer Will Gadd took a leap of faith and made several ascents up the highest free standing mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro. With his ice climbing gear fully equipped, the Canadian climber was alarmed at how quickly the ice on the Tanzanian peak was melting.
Six years later, as the mountain’s ice caps continued to rapidly disappear, Gadd returned for “The Last Ascent”. This time, with the help of eyecandylab and Red Bull TV, sharing his experiences and discoveries of extreme environmental deterioration with the audience, through augmented reality (AR).
The AR aspect of this notable documentary, made by eyecandylab using Unity as its development platform, allows the viewer to become an expedition member and explore the impacts that climate change has had on this environment through engaging real-time 3D content and videos delivered directly to the television via the Red Bull TV app.
With real-time 3D graphics rendered in Unity for immersive AR, the journey begins by calibrating your surroundings and TV with the app. Throughout the expedition, significant scenes within the storyline are pinpointed, delivering AR milestones during the climb, and take the entire documentary from a linear video on a TV screen to an immersive experience through the viewer’s smartphone.
“We built our proprietary AR engine on Unity,” says Robin Sho Moser, CEO of eyecandylab, “because the platform is widely available to the broad developer community that the company wants to reach.” Besides being available to developers, says Moser, “these tools offer real-world examples of how storytelling can be brought to an entirely new level through the power of AR, enabled by Unity.”
The Red Bull TV project allowed eyecandylab to carry momentum from the growing trend of converging screens with immersive experiences into a new form of entertainment. And the industry is taking notice: First, the project was featured at Google I/O ‘21; then, weeks later, was recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) with a nomination for the 42nd Annual Sports Emmy® Awards in the Outstanding Digital Innovation category.
“The Last Ascent” marks the world’s first implementation of an augmented reality experience for on-demand streaming. The significant advancements in mobile technology that it’s built on have sparked conversations within the media and entertainment industry around exploring opportunities for making smart living rooms and personal spaces an imperative part of the storytelling process.
With 5G connectivity becoming increasingly available and more mobile devices getting AR capabilities, we can expect to see more immersive, interactive real-time 3D content – made with Unity – in our living rooms very soon.
Ready to join Gadd’s expedition and enjoy a made-with-Unity adventure in your own living room? Download the Red Bull TV app on your mobile device as well as your Chromecast with Google TV and take part in this incredible AR experience.