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ECHO

Design the experience of wasteland adventure

Echo is a city adventure app. Through augmented reality and virtual guide, it offers explorers new ways to discover the abandoned site of Unified Park.

Time

2021

Project Type

UX/UI Design
Service Design

Skills&Tools

Field research, Interview
Figma, Adobe PS, XD
Lens Studio

Where to go for a weekend excursion?

Instead of the usual options, why not go on a wasteland expedition? If you google for wasteland or abandoned sites in LA, you will find many blogs and videos. They show a different LA landscape from another angle. The wastelands aren't all ugly places either, most of them are beautiful. Many locations even have historical value. But they share common features,  they are often unknown or forgotten by the public.

Adventure is in our nature.

Going back to our teenage years, I'm sure many of us had the experience of 'adventure'. It could be a mountain hike, a factory expedition, a camping trip or a simple picnic experience.
An excursion may be the choice of many people for weekend leisure. It is also a way of discovering the city, especially if you live in a historical city.

How to design a better adventure experience in lost attractions?

Research on the Unified Park.

Unified Park is an abandoned attraction in my hometown. It is a theme park that commemorates friendship between Taiwan and the mainland.
It was built in 1994 and opened in 2001. It only runned for 4 years and was closed for more than 15 years. Most of the buildings in the park have begun to break down, and the government has no money to repair and no intention to reopen it.

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Interview on local citizen.

Local residents still can choose this place for sightseeing during holidays. This is because the scenery is breathtaking, while being able to avoid the holiday tourist rush.
Most tourists are simply attracted by the scenery here. But after my investigation, this wasteland still has historical value. Many buildings and monuments have anecdotes behind them.
In my interviews, many people said they knew about this location. But they don't know how to get into the park.

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Hong Qian

 

Local residents still can choose this place for sightseeing during holidays. This is because the scenery is breathtaking, while being able to avoid the holiday tourist rush.
Most tourists are simply attracted by the scenery here. But after my investigation, this wasteland still has historical value. Many buildings and monuments have anecdotes behind them.
In my interviews, many people said they knew about this location. But they don't know how to get into the park.

Zhengrong Ye

 

I found this attraction according to my friend's introduction. Although I have lived and worked in Wuxi for a long time, I don't know the existence of this attraction. The scenery here is beautiful, the architectural style is antique, there are some stone statues and temples, but I don't know the story inside, the sights are abandoned, and these history are forgotten, it is a pity.

Unified Park lacks and cannot get the promotional resources of normal attractions. There are quite a few personal blogs and video introductions. However, the text, pictures and actual scenes often do not correspond, because there are no signs and instructions in the park. Even the entrance is difficult to find.

How can we help to rediscover the value of wasteland attraction through design?

Echo improves wasteland experience in three aspects.

1.Route map to the place. 

2. Story of the wasted building.

3. Augmented reality experience. 

System Overview

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ML model

scan

recognize the building

save resource

AR experience

content

get more info

contribute to the content

route instruction

safety info

​User

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Echo system

The Echo system is the heart of the experience. By identifying the content of the camera screen, the name of the current building, historical stories and community information will pop up on the AR interface. Because it is an abandoned scenic spot, through the Echo, you can also learn about the safety of the building. If marked as dangerous, users can avoid getting too close or entering unsafe premises. 
All information will be displayed on the camera screen.

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camera view

ML network

content

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analyse the camera content

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check the detailed info of sites

Intro & Route map interface

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start animation

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Main Menu

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​bird’s eye view map

The original gate to Unified Park has been closed. Echo suggests another accessible path.

Content interface

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​Detailed site information

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​Users can report safety issues of buildings in Unified Park. 

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Add content/Report error to the community

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Design Process

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Understand

Research

Ideate

Design

Build

Improve

Revise

Revise

Revise

Revise

Revise

 

The history of Unified Park

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Unified home
in Wuxi

Construction began in 1994
Invested 500 million

Opened in 2001

Symbol of friendship between Taiwan and the mainland

Business failure
Closed in 2005

Problems caused by rapid development

At the beginning of the new century, China experienced very rapid development. Especially in coastal cities. As a popular tourist city, Wuxi invested and built a large number of attractions during that period.
Different from the natural attractions here, the Chinese pay more attention to the art of creation. The combination of architecture, culture and natural landscape is more popular with local Chinese tourists. Although Unified Park is a natural attraction, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the renovation.

Epitome of the fate of domestic theme parks

The ending of The Unified Park is just a microcosm of the fate of many "theme parks" in China. In that era, there was a boom in investment in theme parks. Here is some research data.

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In the past ten years (1996-2006), more than 1,000 theme parks have been built.

80% of theme parks are closed so far

70% of those still in business are at a loss

Only 10% are profitable

Rediscover its value

As of 2021, Unified Park remains in an abandoned state. But there's no denying that even if it's not considered a theme park, it's still a scenic natural attraction.

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Echo will improve this wasteland experience in three aspects.

1.Route map to the place.                                  
2.Story telling of the buildings.                    
3.Sharing the adventure experience.

Augmented reality for a richer experience

Augmented reality superimposes information on reality quickly and easily. Abandoned attraction without signs and brochures. It is more intuitive to use the virtual scene display directly, and it does not need to invest too much resources. Even just a QR code sticker can guide the explorer to read the story behind it.

A/B Testing in the core AR interface

The core interface is to scan the scene to obtain information

The full screen has a wider field of view. Better framing for photo shooting.

For exploring abandoned sights and AR recognition features, the user wants to know the location of the scene it is scanning.

Therefore, in the identification interface, I choose to also display the user's location. Let the user intuitively understand the location of the scanned scene.

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Design the Echo app

Welcome page

I took a satellite image of Unified Park and turned it into a vector art image. As an attraction with a historical background. Abstract color blocks can better convey the combination of old attractions and new digital art.

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Scan recognition effects

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Distinguish it from the camera interface

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Radar scanning experience

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Pop-up effects after successful identification

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