Hill Country Science Mill

A technologically bold approach to linking museums with careers

The concept behind the new Hill Country Science Mill was single-minded: fascinate and educate young people in a limited amount of time about science, engineering, technology, and math – enough to activate an interest in science-related careers.

Perfect Prototype was invited early to the planning process to advise on how augmented reality (AR) technology – an expertise of Perfect Prototype – could help execute that concept. Perfect Prototype imagined, then created a museum-wide system of augmented reality stations that links experiences at select exhibits to career options.

At those exhibits, young visitors hold up their museum passes to an AR-coded tablet. An animated robot avatar that they had personalized comes alive and talks with them about what they had just learned at the exhibit and how they can find out more through the museum’s website and programs.

Avatar Customization
Avatar Customization
Picture With Custom Avatar

Perfect Prototype handled all aspects of this augmented reality initiative, from design to installation, specifically:

  • Evaluating, testing, and installing 30 Android tablets around the museum.

  • Developing a central server and database that both delivers content and captures metrics on exhibit usage: up-time, most popular exhibits, visitors’ paths through the museum, etc.

  • Coordinating bilingual (English and Spanish) interface, voiceover, and animation.

  • Building an instant scan and character customization capability for each tablet station with an average one-quarter second scan-to-start.

  • Providing a pipeline to the museum’s online portal, with a log-in picture of the visitor and customized robot tour guide.

  • Tracking visitors’ favorite exhibits for use later on the website when looking for career information on the portal.

Exhibit Animation
Exhibit Animation
Exhibit Animation

More than 30,000 visitors have used the augmented reality system in the museum’s first 10 months of operation. There have been no calls to Perfect Prototype for technical support.