Travel back in time at Checkpoint Charlie in AR with Darabase

Travel back in time at Checkpoint Charlie in AR with Darabase

Checkpoint Charlie AR experience

Many of the concepts and projects that we at Darabase discuss with our property company partners leverage what we internally call the “AR Time Machine” – the ability to travel forward or backward in time to see how a location is transformed.

Cityscapes are in constant flux. AR can create an immersive and informative layer to demonstrate both the history of iconic locations as well as the future vision of property transformations and new developments.

The Darabase team wanted to see how our technology could be pushed and leveraged to create more than just an AR “window” on the past.  How could we use the latest techniques and technologies to produce a fully mapped, 3D spatial AR layer on a large iconic location which has seen much historical change?  What better destination than Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin?

We started by capturing and creating an accurate 3D scan of the existing space, centred around the current US Army checkpoint installation.  We then scoured the web and a number of archives, to find historical images of the location that we could use to create a virtual, spatial layer to texture the current location’s 3D model.

To add some drama we introduced a low flying F-104 Starfighter jet with an impactful sound mix that flies overhead during the AR activation, adding an extra sensory element to the experience.

In terms of end user technology, we decided to deliver the experience in WebAR rather than native app, to stretch the technology even further and minimise user friction to make it highly accessible.   It was important to pre-load much of the creative before the AR content started in order to deliver the best user experience.  To support this, as well as helping to deliver more historical context for the immersive transformation to come, we developed an introductory video sequence that plays at the beginning of the activation.

Finally we tested a number of different ways to track the user’s position within the 3D scene – always a major consideration, especially in WebAR.  The final solution was to use the large billboard of a soldier within the scene, allowing the user to layer a “mask” of the soldier onto the billboard to lock the physical environment to the virtual layer and create an accurate and compelling world-scale augmentation.  We decided to keep a black and white representation of the billboard in the AR scene to create a connection and anchor between the present and the past.

You can see a video of the full experience below.