Every now and then, Hollywood has a moment where two (or more) movies arrive at around the same time, most recently with the release of dueling Fyre Festival documentaries.
Augmented reality is having a similar moment right now, with Google’s Arts & Culture department publishing a new Big Bang AR experience based on research from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) arriving about two months after the AR feature from The New York Times profiling the Large Hadron Collider.
Instead of packing it all into the Google Arts and Culture app, Google published the experience in the Big Bang AR app for iOS and Android, both of which were unveiled as part of the Google Arts and Culture event on Tuesday in Washington, DC.
To launch the AR experience, users are asked to hold a hand in front of their smartphone camera, make a fist, then slowly open it to activate the virtual Big Bang. The story of the Big Bang unfolds in five chapters, as told by actress Tilda Swinton, who evidently excels at narrating trippy animated sequences, based on this app and her first scene in Doctor Strange.
As the story progresses, users can interact with the particles and atoms as they form and explore the universe as it unfolds in front of their eyes. Users can also capture photos of the experience throughout the journey. At the conclusion of the story, users can take a selfie filtered through a celestial cloud.
“One of CERN’S missions is to educate and engage people from all over the world with science and technology. With this app, we hope to reach new audiences and share with everyone the story of the origin of our universe in an inspiring way,” said Charlotte Warakaulle, CERN’s director for international relations, in a statement.
The Google Arts and Culture team has become a proving ground for educational AR experiences, including the Pocket Gallery, a virtual museum hosting the works of Johannes Vermeer and the Art Projector, an AR camera that displays famous works of art in the users’ space.
Moreover, Google has been on a bit of an AR roll across the board lately with new apps for Android Partner Walk at MWC and ARCore Elements for the release of ARCore 1.7, the arrival of Childish Gambino Playmoji for Google Pixel’s Playground app, and the start of alpha testing for AR walking navigation in Google Maps.
With the annual Game Developers Conference (which served as a showcase for the Google Maps API and ARCore last year) just around the corner, and Google I/O (and likely the next big update of ARCore) coming in May, Google’s AR hits will probably keep on coming.