20 Jun Aireal Brings Augmented Reality to the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week
The Discovery Channel is rolling out a brand new feature for Shark Week. The network’s annual ratings extravaganza, which returns on Sunday, June 26, will be complemented by an immersive augmented reality experience. What goes through your mind when you see divers swimming with sharks on television? “I wish I could do that. I wonder what it would be like.” Here’s your chance to find out.
The Shark N’ Awe augmented reality experience is available via the Discovery VR app. You can download it for both Apple iOS devices, and Android devices. It was developed specifically for Shark Week, but you don’t have to wait. It’s already live. As soon as you open the app, you’ll see Shark N’ Awe front and center. It’s Discovery Channel’s featured experience.
Once you’re in the Shark N’ Awe part of the app, you’ll have access to its two main components, Virtual Air Jaws, and Swim with Sharks. They were both developed by Dallas based augmented reality startup, Aireal. Kevin Hart, the company’s founder, discussed the project, saying, “We’ve developed a number of private augmented reality solutions for B2B companies. For our first public project, we wanted to find a large partner that would really allow us to showcase what we can do. The Discovery Channel and Shark Week was a perfect fit.”
The Virtual Air Jaws feature uses geospatial augmented reality, and it was developed to allow viewers to further immerse themselves into Shark Week programming. It’s named after Air Jaws, one of the shows that will premiere next week. Asked about geospatial augmented reality, Hart responded, “When the user launches the application, it anchors them at those precise coordinates. Our technology will take the view of your surroundings as seen through your device’s camera, and seamlessly add a massive shark that swims all around you. It jumps, Free Willy style, up out of the water, and you can pause it, walk all around it, look for the perfect angle, snap a picture, and share it on social media.”
Swim with Sharks is an augmented reality app that acts as a live action shark exhibit. There are four locations that users can visit: The Great Barrier Reef, South Africa, New Jersey, and Maui. Once you open up the app, your world view is suddenly submerged, and the sharks that are native to that area can be seen swimming around you. If you tap on the sharks, you can get more information about that particular species. “The Discovery Channel is extremely proud of what they call their Sharkopedia,” said Hart. “We took all of that rich data that they have and added it to the app. It’s a great way to learn. Kids absolutely love it.”
Swim with Sharks is educational, but it also has a 360 degree gaming feature, called Shark Frenzy. Hart described the fast paced game, saying, “The sharks that were swimming around you peacefully moments ago are now hungry, and they’re coming for you. You have to use your radar to spin around until they’re in view so you can tap on them and get them to swim away. If you don’t tap them in time, they come right up and bite you.” It’s exciting, but kid friendly. There’s no blood and gore when you get bitten.
Every aspect of the project was developed here in North Texas. Hart even partnered with the University of Texas at Dallas to get a number of computer science students involved in the project. Tune in to Shark Week on the Discovery Channel on June 26, and download the Discovery VR app today to experience Shark N’ Awe.