Jan 12, 2018 | By Tess

AstroReality, a San Francisco-based startup, has launched a new project which could very well be the next big fad in augmented reality apps. Called LUNAR, the project consists of an amazingly detailed 3D printed model of the moon and a companion app that lets users explore the model moon’s surface and learn about Earth’s only natural satellite.

AstroReality’s project, which was brought to life through a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign this past fall (it raised over $200K), is aimed at teaching people about the “moon they know” (what can be seen in the night sky) and the “moon they don’t” (otherwise known as the “dark side of the moon”) in a dynamic and engaging way.

That is, rather than simply have a digital model of the moon that can be explored online or through an app, AstroReality’s product is centered on a physical 3D printed copy of the moon, which it says can be up to a 1:116,020,845 scale—basically the size of a softball.

The moon model is based on data derived from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and is 3D printed in super high-resolution using what the startup calls “the most accurate industrial 3D printing technology available today.” (The 3D printed moons apparently have a precision of 0.006 mm.)

The 3D printed moon, made from a hard polyresin material, is impressively detailed and thanks to a meticulously hand painted surface looks almost as though the real celestial body was shrunk down and plucked out of the sky.

Paired with the 3D printed model is the AstroReality augmented reality app (available for iOS and Android), which really takes the project to another level.

With it, users can scan their 3D printed moon models and open up a world of knowledge and learn about landmarks and topographical features on the moon’s surface, where the moon landings were, and other moon-related trivia. One might even be surprised to learn that the moon is not, in fact, made of cheese.

The AR app is fairly sophisticated as well, and features multimedia information and activities. For instance, if you point your smartphone at one angle of the 3D printed moon model, you might be prompted to read small bits of trivia or see photos of astronauts who have been to the moon, if you check out another side of the moon, you can watch short but informative video clips. As the San Francisco startup says, it wants to “[bring] the Moon’s story to life.”

Of course, the 3D printed moon model and its education augmented reality app don’t come cheap, as AstroReality is asking for $219. Still, considering the accuracy and detail of the 3D printed moon and the breadth of the information available through the AR app, the price seems justified.

If you’re not quite ready to dish out over $200 for the unique LUNAR Pro experience, AstroReality also has smaller versions of the 3D printed moon available for either $89 (LUNAR Regular) or $39 (LUNAR Mini). The LUNAR Mini has a scale of 1:12,000,000.

In addition to the LUNAR series, AstroReality also offers what is calls the “Solar System Mini Set,” which includes miniature (3 cm) models of all the planet’s from our solar system (including Pluto). These less detailed models can be used with the AstroReality app but require a special coded display stand. The complete mini set will set you back $129.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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