'National Geographic' Creates Interactive Instagram AR Dinosaur Experience

National Geographic unveiled an augmented reality (AR) activation on Instagram last week: interactive filters featuring dinosaurs.

The “Reimagining Dinosaurs” AR activation allows people to see what dinosaurs looked like based on recent discoveries. The filters are built off the latest findings from the Reimagining Dinosaurs cover story of the National Geographic magazine. The text and voiceover in the filters are from the cover story’s author Michael Greshko, explaining the findings.



“For National Geographic, Instagram is a great way to get important storytelling in front of the masses. What better way to do that then through immersive experiences like AR?” National Geographic’s director of Instagram, Josh Raab, told Publishers Daily.

The main National Geographic Instagram account has over 146 million followers. In May, the company announced it had hit more than 200 million followers across all of its accounts on the platform.

This is the first National Geographic AR activation to take place underwater — recent archaeological discovery with the National Geographic Society revealed the Spinosaurus (one of the dinosaurs in the activation) was the first known swimming dinosaur. 

Users can see Spinosaurus, Deinonychus and the Yi Qi AR experiences when using a smartphone.

The feature is available on Instagram as a filter. Users can swipe left on the homepage of the app to open the Instagram camera, swipe right on the filters to Browse Effects, and search “Deinonychus,” “Spinosaurus” or “Yi Qi.”

Raab said the team realized most of the AR filters on Instagram were using the front-facing "selfie" camera, to augment users' faces. 

The primary focus of Nat Geo’s filters is on the outward-facing camera to augment users' reality. For example, it lets users experience a swimming dinosaur in their living rooms.

“All of our AR experiences are centered around new scientific discoveries. They bring those discoveries to life, allowing the viewer to experience something beyond what is readily available, or even possible in their day to day lives,” Raab said.

Platform and scale are some challenges facing AR and immersive features, he added.

Facebook's Spark AR Studio platform helps creators solve those issues “by integrating AR functionality into Instagram with no downloads required.”

“We are then able to promote the experiences to our followers through Instagram Stories, feed posts and now reels,” Raab said.

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