Get ready to cross into an interdimensional portal, because one just appeared at Seattle’s Museum of Flight: It’s transporting visitors into an augmented-reality tour of a historic NASA plane.
In a style similar to Pokémon GO, the Museum of Flight’s app places a portal onto the screen of a smartphone or tablet, blended in with a view of the real world. In real life, museumgoers are walking alongside the 1967 prototype Boeing 737, affectionately nicknamed “Baby Boeing.” The view from the augmented world, however, is much different.
After stepping into the portal, the augmented-reality view shows a full-scale virtual model of the interior of the first 737 jet, which was initially used as a Boeing flight test aircraft and was turned over to NASA’s Langley Research Center in 1974. A peek inside reveals where the research experiments and data acquisition systems replaced the seats.
The flying laboratory, known as the Transport System Research Vehicle or the “Airborne Trailblazer,” helped pave the way for modernized flight technology, improvements in fuel efficiency, better performance on slippery runways and much more.
The Museum of Flight recruited Tosolini Productions to scan the airplane using Matterport 3-D technology, and then turn that data into an augmented-reality experience using Apple ARKit.
The museum’s first augmented-reality tour follows up on its experiments with virtual reality.
Last year, the Museum of Flight teamed up with Microsoft to create a VR experience similar to Google Street View. Users can drop into historic planes such as the B-17F Flight Fortress via a computer screen or VR goggles.
A lot of the planes on display in the museum’s Aviation Pavilion, including a Concorde and an Air Force One jet, are open to walk through in real life. But Peder Nelson, exhibit developer at the Museum of Flight, said this isn’t the case with all exhibits.
“Not all of these planes can be accessed, so we’re leveraging technologies like 3-D virtual tours to capture the interiors,” he said in a video.