Travel is difficult. It’s expensive and time consuming, not to mention challenges like learning a new language. While there’s no substitute for physically experiencing a new place, XR development company DoubleMe is creating a holographic replica of the historic South Korean city Buyeo.
City-Scale Digital Twins
Digital Twins are an increasingly popular tool in enterprise. Creating detailed and reactive virtual models can help in design, training, disaster preparedness, and other wicked problems. However, virtual models of physical locations also have benefits for fields like education, game and experience design, and even virtual travel.
So, why doesn’t every city have a digital twin?
The quick answer is that creating a digital twin gets more complicated the larger the object gets. You can make a digital twin of the chachke on your desk with a mobile phone and a couple of minutes but creating “city-scale” digital twins requires huge amounts of data.
That doesn’t mean that no one has tried it. Google is working on “world-scale” AR, in part using satellite data and mobile device location data that they already have access to. Companies like Niantic are filling in the virtual map by gamifying localized data collection through games like Pokemon Go. The Augmented City platform offers open SDKs.
DoubleMe is doing something different.
Why DoubleMe? Why Buyeo?
DoubleMe created social mixed reality for HoloLens. Most notably, they are behind the TwinWorld application for creating social holographic experiences in a user’s unique environment. They’re also behind HoloPortal Studio, an application for hologram motion capture.
Their next initiative, creating “the world’s first hologram city,” combines elements of both of these technologies to map a digital version of Buyeo, South Korea.
“Buyeo once was capital of Baekje, an ancient Korean kingdom known for technology and global cultural exchange,” DoubleMe CEO Albert Kim said in a release shared with ARPost. “We’re so excited to transform this historic city into the next generation immersive landscape.”
DoubleMe, partnered with Buyeo, will provide local students and community members with HoloLens and Nreal MR glasses capable of contributing to the holographic city’s construction. In addition to being valuable in itself, the hologram can be used by people and agencies in Buyeo to create immersive mixed reality experiences throughout the town.
“Using simple and free tools, this will be the world’s first attempt to build a city-scale social mixed reality experience created by citizens,” Buyeo Mayor, Park Jeong-Hyun, said in the release. “In an era of contactless technology, this is a great opportunity to spread the culture of Buyeo to the world.”
Coming to a Hologram City Near You?
Once the hologram city is complete, DoubleMe and the city of Buyeo will host a “City Design Hackathon” to create experiences using the hologram model. Even people who live outside of Buyeo will have access to the hologram through the TwinWorld app some time in mid-to-late 2021.
Buyeo might be DoubleMe’s first hologram city, but it won’t be the last. The company has partnered with a number of tech firms throughout Europe, including Deutsche Telekom, and is expecting to create more city-scale digital twins next year.
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