Augmented Reality Comes to the Rose Parade

02 January 2018

Every year the annual Tournament of Roses New Year’s Day parade, a Pasadena, California, tradition since 1890, displays floats that feature all manner of float design marvels, from animated characters to flowing water and ingenious uses of plant materials. One 2018 float presented a tricycling figure whose head spewed popcorn when he doffed his hat. Another offered up a garden bursting with animated fruits and vegetables.

The most futuristic technology in the parade came from Singpoli American BD, a real estate development company, whose float incorporated augmented reality (AR) to make a Chinese legend come alive. Float designer Charles Meier of Paradisio Floats illustrated a traditional story of overcoming adversity, that of the carp and the Dragon Gate. This story tells of fish swimming upstream in the Yellow River towards the Dragon Gate. Their reward for completing the arduous journey: when the fish jump over the Dragon Gate, each will transform into a dragon.

The float features three golden carp swimming towards the gate, constructed at the rear of the 55-feet-long base. In order to complete the story and show a carp becoming a dragon, the float designer turned to a Pasadena company, Interactivism, to create the illusion of this transformation. Interactivism developed a Metaverse-based AR application for parade viewers to download to smartphones. The Singpoli AR website provided instructions for downloading and using the app, which worked both for viewers along the parade route and those on television. Users watch the float through their phones’ cameras.

Interactivism co-founder Petra Wennberg Cesario explained that, “AR technology allows viewers to interact with digital animations that tell the story of the carp and the Dragon Gate while at the same time enjoying the breathtaking float design that includes animatronics and water effects.”

The float’s theme of rising Aaove is an homage to Asian migrants who have made their homes in Southern California. Singpoli and Paradisio brought home the Rose Parade Sweepstakes trophy, the event’s highest award, for their entry.

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