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Harnessing Augmented Reality to Tackle Climate Change

This article is Part II of a series on the Summer Internship Project at Holition. Part I can be found here.


The Summer Internship Project usually brings an extra 8 people into our offices in Holborn Circus, creating a flurry of activity as interns and the production, development, strategy and UX teams of Holition work on their internship task. This year, the coronavirus outbreak changed this dynamic, and we had to adapt to using online collaborative tools. 


To streamline the onboarding process, we used Trello to keep track of administrative tasks. Daily stand-up was held over Google Meet, and we experimented with different styles and lengths of meetings to find a rhythm that suited the team dynamics. Ultimately, what we found worked best was a review meeting to start the day, allocate tasks and identify hurdles, and then allow the interns to self assemble into smaller meetings to get to work. For mapping out key research insights, user pain points and ideation, we used Miro boards with the chat and video tool enabled. Any time we would have turned to a white board or Post-It notes in the office, we used Miro instead. 


Daily challenges were set and internal presentations made in order to share their findings amongst one-another. This created a needed routine, as the weekly schedule consisted of presentations to the breadth of the company. Here, each expert that made up the different departments of Holition had the opportunity to offer suggestions and constructive criticism. It is commendable that the interns were working virtually across five time zones, dialling in from Australia, China, India, and South Africa. 


As described in Part I, the boundary lines project were cast as follows:


The work should explore our connectedness as a human race, deepening our understanding of the strong and weak ties that unify us.


Whatever the interns decide to develop and launch, the urgency of immediate and sustained climate action needs to be communicated, and the work should be heavily dosed with optimism.


Through this work, individuals should understand how meaningful their contributions really are, and that battling the climate emergency at scale requires many people stepping up to the plate at all levels of society. The work should appeal to a broad demographic, possibly through the use of awe and novelty, to drive conversations around climate action. 


Holition’s philosophy and understanding of the human experience lead the team of students to research the various psychological, infrastructural, social, political, and cultural phenomena surrounding factors that influence mindsets about fighting climate change. After three weeks of a deep dive into research, ideation, and pain-point and user journey mapping, it was decided that developing a piece that could be experienced without the constraints of walls or borders would be pursued. The team settled on the idea of creating an app-based, augmented reality (AR) experience, that could be accessed in homes, streets, outside (and inside!) museums, and at schools.


Previous internship projects utilized Holition’s expertise in data visualisation, as seen below.


2018: Blossoming Fashion Conversations in collaboration with the British Fashion Council

bfc1 01


Tate Gif

The previous data visualisations served as the foundations for the output of this year's summer internship project. Agreeing that the idea of depicting data of some of the most important pieces of information regarding our impact on the climate could create an interactive experience if paired with AR technology and become accessible to audiences globally through the use of a smartphone. 

screenshot 2020 09 18 at 14 02 41

The AR experience has been named ‘Intertwined Futures’, as it explores the intertwined nature of human systems built up over past decades, whilst simultaneously expressing a hope for the future, where these man-made systems can be rewired to live in symbiosis with nature. The user journey of the App guides users through an exploration of how the greenhouse gas emissions of different industries impinge on nature, and prompts users to make commitments to cool the climate and intertwine our futures to a greener planet, revealing a scene where constraints are lifted.

In particular, the experience, created in Blender and Unity, was designed to explore and compare the emissions from different sectors of industry, with some surprising revelations around where the largest impact can be made. Vines show emissions over a 25 year period, where larger leaves visually demonstrate higher impact (1 leaf represents 0.1 tonnes CO2 emitted in that year). Once the user has viewed the data visualisation, they are prompted to make a promise. Here, actions that can meaningfully move the needle on climate change are represented as flowers, and users can commit to an action, and thus plant a flower around the previously constrained tree. As more individuals commit, the garden will flourish and grow, without the limitations previously held in place by the fossil fuel cage. Finally, the user can explore what the impact of the collective promises is becoming, with visualizations of the cumulative commitments made. In doing so, individuals will start to understand how significant small individual actions can be, when taken at scale.

The core message behind this year’s Holition Summer Internship Project is that you, as a human, are adaptive by nature, and have the ability to shape the future; an Intertwined Future. 

This AR experience is now officially available for the public. We invite you to join the global conversation around Intertwined Futures.


Visit our immersive exhibition at London Fashion Week between 17th - 24th September 2020 in partnership with Lone Design Club. 


Download The IF Tree App now on the Apple Store or visit the link in bio for more details.

The 2020 Class of Summer Interns include:

Steven Addae (Polimoda, BA Business of Fashion)

Kincso Marton (King’s College London, BS International Business)

Ashwini Deshpande (London College of Fashion, BA Fashion Design)

Leandri van der Wat (University of Oxford, MSc Chemistry, MBA)

Yinan Wu (London College of Fashion, MA Fashion Future)

Julia Gorokhova (Regent’s University, MSc Marketing Psychology)

Owen Thomas Davies (London College of Fashion, BA Creative Direction for Fashion)

Debbie Yeboa (King’s College London, MSc Digital Marketing)

Aanchal Nagar (London College of Fashion, MBA Fashion Business)