Over the moon! New app lets users get full moon landing experience
Fifty years after the first humans landed on the moon, a Polish started-up has developed an immersive augmented reality app for NASA and the Smithsonian Institution that brings that first, historic moonwalk to life for new generations.
On 20 July 1969, the Apollo 11 spaceflight landed on the moon. The next day, two Americans, commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon.
To mark the anniversary, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the world’s largest museum and research complex, decided to create a tool using new technology.
“The ‘Apollo's Moon Shot AR’ app is our first experiment using augmented reality tell history, which enables viewers to experience the Apollo programme in a much more personal way. We wanted to recreate these events as faithfully as possible,” said Charles Poe, senior vice president at the Smithsonian.
The app, which can be downloaded for free, complements the Smithsonian Channel’s six-part television series entitled “Apollo’s Moon Shot”, on the history of the moon landing programme.
It was created by Immersion, a Polish company that implements augmented reality and virtual reality technology across platforms for business and entertainment.
NASA gave Immersion access to historical materials, including photos and recordings of the moon landing. Some of these were incorporated into the app; when the rocket launches, real conversations can be heard in the background.
The app places users right in the action of NASA’s space missions of the 1960s. They can launch their own Saturn V rocket, sit inside the Lunar Command Module of Apollo 11 and explore the lunar landscape.
The app includes two AR simulation games, the “Moon Shot Challenge” and the “Lunar Landing Challenge”, where users navigate to the moon and land dodging craters and boulders.
In a nod to today’s digital age, users can even take a selfie on the Moon and share it with friends on social media. Notifications providing hour-by-hour updates from the Apollo 11 mission to the moon are also available.
According to Immersion’s CEO Piotr Baczyński, the app was created to be accessible and intuitive for all users, regardless of age.