Makoto Morishita was well underway improving his AR camera app ARama! during his time in the INNO-vation Program. ARama! is an app that lets people use themselves or others as objects to control in an AR environment.
ARama! still had some imperfections to work on. The demo version had bugs that would cause the application to crash, and using too many objects on screen at the same time would tremendously slow down its performance speed. Morishita took a second look at the development of his app and quickly solved the issues plaguing its stability.
He still had to tackle the issue of getting the app to work correctly on different devices, as well as adjust for the different screen sizes between phones and tablets. Different size screens can require different display ratios, and releasing the app without testing it on these platforms would potentially result in a mismatched display.
Thanks to the support he received from the INNO-vation Program, he was able to tidy up his work environment and purchase a plethora of devices for testing purposes, including a display with a large screen. He then continued putting together a system that would adapt the application to several types of devices.
The biggest issue he was facing was increasing its user-friendliness. ARama has several built-in features, including recording and duplicating people on screen.
“I had the opportunity to show off the demo version at several exhibitions, but I found that if I wasn’t right next to the person using it showing them how to operate the app, they weren’t able to use it easily. I was already thinking of developing it as an application, so I knew something had to be done about that aspect,” said Morishita, aware of the problems ARama! still had.
Even with this in mind, controlling a three-dimensional space like AR on a flat surface has its limitations, and research is still being done in other applications on how to make AR more intuitive to control. Devising a way to make ARama! easier to use took time.
“I was continuing to develop the application with the end-user in mind, but it often ended up that the app would be used in completely different ways than I had expected. I came to realize how difficult it can be to predict something when my expectations aren’t the main factor in the development,” Morishita said.
Morishita found that while the app was not always used in ways he had anticipated, it often resulted in the discovery of new, interesting uses. He envisioned ARama! as an app that let the user cut out and move around people in an AR space, but once he had people try the application out, he found they would use it in much more creative ways. For example, users were cutting out hands and planting them like flowers in the ground, as well as taking their own faces and placing them high in the sky.
“Different ideas started to emerge depending on the user’s profession and background. People who worked in fashion discovered that it could be used to preview a change of clothes in a virtual space. People in track and field told me they used it to check the form of their long jump. Thanks to these reactions, I was able to communicate with people that I normally wouldn’t have been able to in my life,” Morishita said with a smile.
In Part 3, we’ll ask Morishita about his developments after the INNO-vation Program.
Part 3 coming June 20th, 2022