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How an unlikely “Captain Planet” might inspire us to save the Earth

Our planet is in a critical state, and the time to take action is now. According to the WWF, only 39% of the world’s population know about our dependence on biodiversity (an alarming statistic and an affront to science teachers everywhere).

The Rewild Our Planet press conference on 5 April 2019, at the ArtScience Musuem. (Photo: Daryl Chow)

At this turning point in our earth’s future, like a version of Captain Planet brought to real life, WWF, Google, Netflix, ArtScience Museum and PHORIA have come together to launch an international project in the hopes of stemming the tide. (Who is earth, fire, wind, water and heart is up to you to decide.) With their powers combined, their goal is to awaken us to the real possibilities and steps that we can take to reverse the threat to our biodiversity and to the place we call home.

Netflix’s Our Planet

This project unfolds in two different ways. First, we have Our Planet, Netflix’s most ambitious documentary to date. It follows in the footsteps of epic nature series like Blue Planet and Planet Earth. In fact, many of the creators of the previous shows, including Sir David Attenborough, are involved in Our Planet, which took several crews 3500 separate days to film and 4 years to complete.

Unlike the previous nature documentaries, however, Our Planet isn’t as much about showing us the beauty of nature as much as emphasising the transient nature of it. Launched on 5 April as a 8-part series on Netflix, the aim of Our Planet is to build empathy through inspirational and surreal footage from landscapes and nature spots all over the globe.

Rewild Our Planet, the AR Experience

The Rewild Our Planet media preview. (Photo: Daryl Chow)

Secondly, Rewild Our Planet, a multisensory Social Augmented Reality experience, has launched at ArtScience Museum, and will run till Sunday, 2 June. Entry is free, and from 10am to 7pm daily. At this exhibit, which integrates awe-inspiring footage from Our Planet, you step into and interact with the landscapes that surround you.

From the first peeks at the media preview, the exhibit revolves around using AR to view the introduction, and then voting with your feet by standing on the biome (e.g. forests, arctic, oceans) that you would like to experience (this is the social aspect). You’ll get to visit the forests of Borneo and India, the oceans of Asia, the grasslands of Mongolia and the frozen worlds of the Arctic.

(Photo: Marina Bay Sands)

The biome that we managed to try out is the Forest landscape, which starts off lush and abundant, then is entirely degraded before announcing that you have the power to restore it by waving your AR device and walking around. If you do it well, you may even be able to see a number of hornbills flying around the treetops of the greenery that you restore! As with an increasing number of technological implementations, Singapore is the proud first leg of this international tour, before it rolls out to the US and the UK.

The exhibition unfolds through the lens of the Google Pixel 3. Footage from Our Planet was integrated with Google’s ARCore. PHORIA’s unique digital twin system which, once activated with Google’s ARCore, helps blend the 2D footage into the space around you.

The power is in your hands, so come down to the ArtScience Museum to experience Rewild Our Planet before it ends on 2 June! If not, the 8-part series of Our Planet is available on Netflix, hopefully for generations to come.

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