Predator: An immersive AR experience for visitors at Georgia Aquarium


Paper&pen, Figma, TorchAR, Premiere Pro


Aug. - Dec. 2019

My Role

UX Designer & Researcher.  I worked with my team to plan and conduct research activities. I led the design and prototyping work. After the course ended, I took the initiative to improve the design based on user feedback.


Yangyi Xu, Candice Butts, Yash Lara, Gurudutt Perichetla, Sonam Singh

Designing for an upcoming shark exhibit of Georgia Aquarium

In Fall 2020, the Georgia Aquarium will open a new expansion titled ‘Predator’, which will be home to some of the most recognizable apex predators in the ocean. The exhibit aims to provide a fresh perspective on the vital role sharks play in the health of the ocean, and change people’s perception towards sharks from ‘Fear to Fascination’.  While the exhibit is designed with this narrative, our task was to seek technological interventions to support the goal of exhibit and enhance the visiting experience.

the challenge
How might we enhance the visiting experience of visitors and help achieve the educational goal of the aquarium?
the Solution
An AR experience on Magic Leap that provides seamless information display and delivers educational messages engagingly
Jump to Final Design
Phase 1


Meeting with stakeholders ✍️

We met in the aquarium with our stakeholders, where they presented the materials and videos of the upcoming exhibit, and explained their expectations of this project.

On-site research activities 👀

To understand the problem space better, we want to learn more about the problems the visitors are facing in the current environment in the aquarium, and how their perception of sharks are like. We used 4 research methods to gauge a better understanding. We want to learn more about these three main aspects:

- How does users engage with the current exhibits in the aquarium?
- Visitors’ motivations, expectations and experiences?
- What's the existing perception towards sharks?

Analysis of research data 📑

Who are the visitors? why do they visit?
How do they engage in the exhibits currently?

Phase 2


Synthesizing the results from the discovery phase, we’re now ready to define the problem and the opportunity space, the specific learner, their learning context, and learning goals, based on what we summarized high-level criteria to ground our design.

Defining the user needs 👀

By synthesizing the results from the research phase, we can define the core user needs and frustrations of our user -- the aquarium visitors.

problem statement
How might we help visitors get the information they more effectively,
and feel more engaged in the exhibit?
Phase 3


Design Alternatives And Feedback

Given the research data and defined problem, we did intensive brainstorming sessions and generated three divergent design alternatives. To seek feedback on the concepts, we had following feedback sessions.#1 Heuristic Evaluation with stakeholders from the aquarium(education team, floor staff, industry experts)#2 Survey for visitors of the aquarium#3 Poster Sessions with peer designers and design experts

Narrow down on Concept1 - AR Checkpoints Experience

Based on the insights for the feedback sessions, we came up with a combination of divergent designs.

Selected Features from three design alternatives
- Anthropomorphization of sharks (help build empathy)
- Involving the gamification (enhance immersion)
- Create a narrative of sharks (help tell the story)

Prototypic walkthrough

We conducted a prototypic walkthrough to gather feedback of the concept. We used the Wizard of Oz Technique, built a gallery in a classroom and tried to provide participants as real the experience as possible. 8 participants were divided into 2 groups, while each group was followed by a moderator and note-taker.

Findings and design decisions


Continuous storyline

Risk of missing parts of the story due to the continuous storyline

Content on left wall

Confusion about what to focus on - AR experience or actual sharks?

Based on mobile AR

Holding a device to view content is uncomfortable and unattractive - especially when the visitor comes with partners.


Individual section of shark stories

Make storytelling an individual part not depending on the position in the exhibition

Content integrated with the sharks in the tank

Provide immersive experience that is not distracting from the real-world experience

Mainly based on AR headset

An AR headset will allow immersive, unintrusive transition between digital and real-world experience.

Choose of AR headset - Magic Leap

We chose Magic Leap as the device for the experience. Our stakeholders supported this decision for two reasons: Georgia Aquarium has a long term collaboration with Mahic Leap; It’s feasible to make the experience using Magic Leap as an exclusive experience that the aquarium provides.We’ll be using the controller as the main input method.

Key Design Criteria

We defined four key design criteria to help ground our design. The criteria are based on what we summarized from user research and stakeholders’ expectations: any proposed designs must involve the Aquarium’s goal of educating the public about sharks while entertaining guests and increasing visitor turnout.

Final Concept
An immersive AR experience on Magic Leap headset that provides information seemlessly, deliver messages in a storytelling approach and enhances interaction within visitors.
Shark Assistant

A shark assistant picked by the user will be leading the user through the experience. This                            anthropomorphic approach aims to arouse sympathy of visitors towards sharks. With the shark                            assistant’s narrative, the whole experience will be more organized.

Fish Finder

This feature allows users to get shark information in immersive environment without referring                            to multiple information sources.

Gamification and storytelling

Through playing AR games and reading AR stories, visitors will be exposed to conservation                            stories and educational materials in a more fun way.

Phase 4


Testing Sessions

With our prototype on TorchAR and a presentation video ready, we conducted expert evaluation with 4 experts from Georgia Aquarium and Georgia Tech, and conducted user testing with 4 participants in total.

Issues and Design Recommendations

Synthesizing the testing results, we were able to gather issues in content, usability and experience of the design, and gave design recommendations. These findings recommendations helped iterate the design in the next phase.

Phase 5 - Individual Work


Design Iterations

Improve the onboarding experience

From the evaluation sessions, we found there exists difficulty in using the magic leap headset and the system itself.

I realized in the previous design there are several problems:
- Required the users to do the ‘click’ action without showing them how to click
- Multiple sentences in one frame increased the difficulty to read
- Shark assistants represented by 2D icons lost vividness
- Instruction page for the menu lacked explanations

Rethink the flow and interaction

Improve display

Final Design
📍 At the entrance - Meet the shark assistant

The shark assistant will be leading the user through the onboarding. This anthropomorphic approach aims to arouse sympathy of visitors towards sharks. With the shark assistant’s narrative, the whole experience will be more organized.

📍 Approaching the tank windows - Fish Finder

Fish finder feature could be triggered by either interacting with the shark assistant or clicking on the menu.

📍 Approaching the game area

The ocean cleaning game could be triggered by either interacting with the shark assistant in the game area or clicking on the menu. After the game ends, there will be a recap of the problem sharks are facing.

📍 At the exit

The shark assistant will be triggered to recap the conservation message; send photos and recording.