Information Design

Humboldt immersive book

This immersive augmented reality (AR) book prototype was created as a reinterpretation of the travel journals of Alexander Von Humboldt, central character of the invitational Mixed Reality Jam “Humboldt and the Americas”, organized by the Goethe Institut Mexiko. The multisensorial proposal retrieves the explorer’s talent as a storyteller of his own expeditions and adventures in the continent, as well as a creator of literary landscapes that combine his scientific knowledge, his discoveries, the cosmogony of the native people and his incredible narrations in previously uncharted territories.

With the intention of sharing his multidisciplinary work and studies with a wider audience, the project is entirely based on inclusion. Hence, the experience is centered on three different levels that focus on visual, audio and haptic interactions brought together in a book: an analog and familiar element that help us retrieve its past use as a sample collector and knowledge source for explorers, showing it now as an unifying object of physical and digital realities presented for a wide range of users that may include children, senior citizens and people with some kind of disability.

Using one of Humboldt’s journal entries as a starting point, the engaging conceptual adventure takes the spectator (equipped with headsets, a VR visor and the book) to a full-moon night in the Orinoco river; surrounded by a soundscape that replicates the tropical environment, the protagonist of the tale starts talking and describing the events around him at the same time that a 3D generated landscape, inspired by his original illustrations, jumps out of the book. As the user turns to the next page to guide and take control over the interaction, the immersive sounding plot continues to develop while presenting data not only about the geographic place, but also about the animals and plants native to the area with visual animations, information printed in the book, tactile elements in the pages and datasheets shown in augmented reality during the sequences, with the aim of communicating and involving the user in part of the research performed by Humboldt.

The approach of this short instructional concept project is to communicate the achievements of Humboldt from a reinvented point of view: his own memoirs and essays. The simple and attractive interaction can be understood and carried out by a wide variety of users with different skills and backgrounds and is made to invite the spectators to experience the contents using the senses they feel more comfortable with. This idea is intended to be replicable in various contexts and for other of the disciplines he studied throughout his life and journeys.

  • Collaborators: Isabel Sotelo, Eduardo Galicia, Kimberley Zacarías, Miguel Torres
  • Client: Project developed by invitation from Goethe Institut Mexiko
  • Date: 06/2019
  • Website: Humboldt