Project 1: Eat It

Technical description of the application

In this project I had to build a 3D scene for each target, i.e. cereal boxes, cans of juice, a placemat and a magazine, in order to augment what should represent a futuristic standard packaging for breakfast food. In such a world, every kind of cereal box would have the same package, which would then be augmented with AR glasses or phone apps to show a scene that represents the theme of the product. Also, there needs to be some interaction between objects. Let's talk about what I implemented.

My first cereal box is called Guns 'n' Cereals and represents a weaponry with a soldier as spokesperson. When the box enters the scene, a gunb reload sound is played. Also, when another cereal box or can enters the scene, both of them will play a "reaction" sound. This box plays a police warning quote. The soldier is animated and slowly looks around.
The second cereal box is Spooky Pops and it represents a little world generated by the necronomicon book magic. It is a scary scene, with phantom trees, skulls and a reaper. The entrance sound is a monster moan and the reaction sound is a demonic scream. The reaper is animated and generates a black mist.
The last cereal box is different from the others: the package is an original one and only the scene is augmented. Its name is Deepsea Cereals and it represents a dive near the coralline barrier, in Egypt. The entrance sound is a bubble sfx and the reaction sound is the sound of sea waves. The clown fish near the scuba diver is animated to swim up and down.
The can is named Rocket Juice. It depicts a rocket flying through the space, with a couple of planets around, a shuttle and an astronaut. The entrance sound is the roar of the rocket's engines, while the reaction sound is the famous quote "Huston, we have a problem". The planets have a spinning animation.
The placemat represents a concert, even though only the singer is present – maybe I should say it represents a sound check. The singer moves around the stage. A guitar riff is played on entrance. The peculiarity of this object is that putting another cereal box or can besides it lets you take a look at its nutritional values. Also, an applause or a boo sfx is played, letting the user know whether the box/can is healthy or not.
Last but not least, the magazine. It's a simple magazine that has two buttons: one to turn to the next page and one to turn it back. There's a total of 4 pages and one front page.

Assets and Credits

This is a list of all the assets that have been used for the project, including the credits for each of them.

Guns 'n' Cereals

Spooky Pops

Deepsea Cereals

Rocket Juice

Concert scene


How to run and download links

You can download the unity project folder from the following link. All you have to do is load it in Unity and run the scene, make sure to install the Vuforia extension in case something doesn't work. I used Unity 2018.2.6 to develop and run the project.

Download link

Youtube video

My thoughts on the project

This project allowed me to think about the future that awaits us, where augmented reality will dominate our perception of reality. The idea of looking at a bunch of food packagings that look completely anonymous and being able to augment them is one of the ways advertisements might work in the future. The implementation would clearly be better than what I did, for I never used Unity or 3D modelling programs before, so I wasn't able to perfectly reproduce my ideas.

The basic idea of the project is that we won't be looking at simple boxes when buying our food. Instead, we'll be seeing lots of fully animated and interactive scenes that represent the brand of interest. Such scenes would try to capture the interest of people, for instance creating a funny, childish mascotte that moves around its stage in order to invite the kids to eat their cereals. In particular, the project is focused on a breakfast scenario, so we have a placemat, cereal boxes, cans of beverages and a magazine to read while eating.

The placemat needs to help the person to choose what to eat, depending on their nutritional needs. Therefore the mat will react badly when you put an unhealthy food near it and react well if you put a healthy one. Another idea of the project is to let the placemat display all the nutritional information of that food. In my implementation, the placemat represents a concert scene. If you put something healthy near it, a round of applause will let you know that you're doing the right choice, while if you want to go the unhealthy way you will get boo'ed. Moreover, the nutritional values will appear on the roof of the stage.

In my imagination, the augmented magazine would be just like a tablet, where you can pick it up and swipe to turn the pages. Such a technology would also allow to use the same image target to display many different magazines, or even just update itself to the new edition once it comes out – really useful if applied on daily newspaper. Another cool feature would be to implement videos and interactive links that redirect you directly to the webpage of what you're reading.

Cereal boxes and drink cans need to capture the attention of the buyer and make him buy the product. My creations have a couple of different themes: a military/gun based box, a spooky scary box and a space rocket can. All of these articles need to have animations – possibly better than my really basic ones – and engaging spokepersons and sounds to capture the attention of the buyer. Another cool idea that the project required me to do was to implement some sort of interaction between the scenes themselves. So developers could let the mascotte become angry or irritated when put near another product. Or again, the spokeperson could start mocking the competition in a tentative to look better than the other products.

The last cereal box that I made represents a different approach to the augmented future that the core of the project required. In this case the graphics of the box aren't completely substituted by computer graphics, instead they are just enhanced with the 3D scene. My creation is a cereal box whose theme is concentrated on the coralline barrier, to remind the flavor of fish of the cereals themselves. This approach is probably less invasive than the other one, but it is also less immersive, which makes attracting new clients harder to do.

I have mixed feelings about the future that I had to imagine while doing this project. I feel like products would become more interesting, but at the same time way too invasive. It depends on the implementation, but I don't want to go to a food market and being overwhelmed by 3D mascottes and objects that keep producing sounds and try to capture my attention. Also, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of products on the shelves, so the situation would become unbearable really quickly.
And this massive marketing operation wouldn't limit to breakfast food, it would expand to every single sold product, making the situation even worse. Then it wouldn't take much time until this style of advertising expands outside of stores.
As long as augmented reality advertising stays non-invasive and actually interesting and smart, I would be fine with that. Sadly, my vision is much more pessimistic than that and I truly think that, once people get used to the first shapes of it, there will be an escalation leading to annoying ads everywhere – much like the internet nowadays.
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