One of the proposals selected for the 2020 INNO-vation Program’s Disruptive Challenge was Morishita Makoto’s development of the augmented reality camera app, ARama! It’s a mobile image-editing app that allows people captured on camera to be freely copied and pasted in an AR environment. Imagine shrinking your own body down to minuscule size and sitting on the rim of a teacup. Perhaps you’d rather be fifty feet tall and use your staggering stature to roam the city streets as a giant. Or maybe you’d rather offer a loved one a bouquet of twelve flowers – only you’re the flowers! ARama! can make these sorts of wild imaginations possible in an AR environment.
Morishita studied and majored in electrical engineering in technical college, but he began to long for a change of pace, which is why he decided to join the arts and engineering division of his university. While studying visual expressions made through design and art, he started getting acquainted with programming.
Upon graduating from university, Morishita moved on to a specialized graduate school, but he found himself in a situation where he had yet to make even a single finished product. That’s when he had a fateful encounter with AR.
“Up to that point I already had plenty of experience with expressing ideas in real space through electronics, woodworking, and 3D printing,” Morishita explained. “I had also completed some digital works that dealt with visual expressions through programming. I liked doing both of those things. While I was working in these areas, AR, a technology that lays digital information on top of real space, started to become really popular. If you’re familiar with AR-related concepts behind real space and how to convey digital information, that gives you the ability to manipulate things at will. I think that concept really resonated with me.”
As Morishita began his research into AR, he began to feel that existing AR technology didn’t have a sense of freedom. “Of course there were a lot of interesting uses out there, but in the end, all of them just used a 3D model that someone had already made, or made a 3D effect appear before your eyes. If you have to use items that someone else has already made, it’s a rather passive experience. So I wondered if it was possible to create an app that allowed users to actively express their own individuality and creativity in augmented reality,” Morishita said.
That’s when he had the idea for ARama!, an app that lets users copy and paste people, move them around, change their size, and freely use them in new, creative expressions. With this, users can realize an augmented reality made from what they deem to be fun and interesting, rather than relying on something made by other people.
Morishita used his programming knowledge and graphic design experience to quickly develop a demo version of ARama! and posted it on Twitter, where it was well-received. It was still a demo, however, and was nowhere near ready to be officially launched. In order to develop the app into a much more fleshed-out version, he applied for the INNO-vation Program. ARama!’s uniqueness was met with high praise, and Morishita was selected for the Disruptive Challenge.
In Part 2, we’ll ask Morishita about his development within the INNO-vation Program.