Client: JOVRNALISM, ContrastVR, Al Jazeera
Tools and framework: Snapchat's Lens Studio, Magic Leap One, Reality Capture, UI/UX, Depth-kit, Unity, C#, Maya, Adobe editing suit
Role: Director (XR experiences - Mobile AR, Magic Leap), Editor(360 Stories), Engineer
Team size: 13
Homeless Realities, a result of this collaboration, is a series of immersive stories by this frequently marginalized and silenced community who have experienced unstable housing due to circumstances ranging from domestic violence to mental illness.

Video of dwelling of a homeless person

Photogrammetry version of dwelling

Along with 360 video series, crew went out to create AR experiences on mobile devices as well as Magic Leap devices. After learning from "Johnnie’s House" project about troubles in distributing AR Stories, the project adopted more versatile platform- Lens Studio. JOVRNALISM crew explored photogrammetry and videogrammetry to create shareable AR stories under 4 MB (yup! MEGABYTE).  This means that the typically large 3D assets and 360 videos have to be compressed and optimized to work within Snapchat’s strict file limitations.
Chaitanya Shah lead the team to create AR Lens, optimize assets and design the experience around a new technology - the experience most people haven’t used before. It is a big responsibility as this experience introduces new embodied gesture language to interact with AR. 
There have been explorations made on overlaying custom 3D UI on top of Snapchat's UI along with conflicting interactions like increasing volume by volume button starts snapchat recording, swiping screen to move object around can accidentally swipe the snapchat modes. Providing feedback on played and unplayed hotspots along with design are still a focus for exploration. 
Deliberately optimized geometry
Deliberately optimized geometry
Hotspot design discussion
Hotspot design discussion
Wireframe overlay to textured photogrammetry of car dwelling
Wireframe overlay to textured photogrammetry of car dwelling
User flow
User flow
Jennifer’s Tent: Place her Echo Park tent into your reality and interact with audio hotspots. Also step inside the tent to see the inside. Read story

Angela’s Car: Bring Angela’s “Big Jimi Red” from the streets of Venice Beach to you. Explore her home, inside and out. Read story

Tabia’s Art: Take a closer look at Queen Mama Tabia’s tissue art she discusses in her story. Read story

Mike’s Cart: Students met Mike pulling his makeshift cart at Echo Park. He’ll give you a tour of what he’s built from found parts.

Prof. Robert Hernandez along with JOVRNALISM crew planned and executed a workshop, to teach people experiencing homelessness how to tell their stories using immersive technology. During the three-day workshop hosted at Los Angeles Central Library, the group brainstormed ideas, wrote scripts, learned how to use 360 camera shooting, but most importantly, they discussed obstacles faced living in unstable housing - and the unique experiences that come with living under those conditions.
While working on this project, Magic Leap One Creator's Edition was launched. Crew explored the development process on it and designed a prototype experience on magic leap. During the process, the crew got a chance to interact with Rony Abovits - CEO of Magic LEAP.

Prof. Robert Hernandez trying out Magic Leap experience of Homeless Realities

I later created a template in Lens Studio for anyone to create such stories in AR along with taking guest lectures at USC. I also wrote an article and tutorial on how to use the template to create such stories. 
As a part of the project, I was also a panelist at Augmented World Expo 2019.

The project won multiple awards and is currently a finalist at ONA
Best use of Multimedia Package: LA Press Club
Judges’ comment: Wonderfully varied and interesting multimedia package. So many compelling human stories, well packaged and easily accessible.
Best use of social media to enhance and/or cover a story:LA Press Club
Judges’ comment: What a new and innovative way to reinvent the wheel. We have never seen anything like this before, and this should be applauded.
Pro-Am student Award Finalist:Online news Association (ONA)
Best 360 Video Series:shorty awards
Back to Top