Apple released their iOS augmented reality kit earlier this year and have just released their shiny new update — ARKit 2. With AR functionality at every iPhone owner’s fingertips (and with Android hot on their tails) AR is fast becoming accessible to anyone with a mobile device.
Here at Mubaloo, we have been discussing potential use cases for this technology for some time. And whilst we help our clients understand the value and potential of this technology, we thought it would be great to develop our own concepts to push the boundaries of AR.
So, the challenge for our one- day Hackathon was:
“Create an AR product which uses the tech to bring added value to users or customers in one of the following fields…”
- Public Safety
Teaming up with colleagues from our sister company, Reprise, for the day, we had 6 teams competing. The teams had a wide range of skills to pull from, with individuals including developers, ux designers, strategy consultants, project managers and more — everyone pulled up their sleeves and got stuck in. Judging was conducted by our own CTO, Mark Stewart, and Operations Director, James Tipler. They were judging the results on the following points:
- Commercial viability — can we sell it?
- How innovative is the idea?
- The usefulness and practicality of the solution
- The quality of the pitch and presentation
On The Day
The Hackathon kicked off at 9 am with a mini-briefing and then all teams got started. We had 6 hours to complete the challenge with lunch provided whilst competitors carried on ‘hacking’. The final pitches and presentations took place at 15:30, the clock was ticking and the pressure was on.
Each team separated into different areas of the office and began by gathering potential concept ideas before deciding which one to run with. At this stage, all teams were in full creative flow — throwing big ideas around and discussing the potential value for their chosen field. As teams, we were asked to think about what the minimum viable product (MVP) could look like, as well as a vision for the future.
Given the nature of the tech involved this year (and the fact that the Android developers have no inbuilt AR kit to work with) teams were not asked to build a full working model of their idea. However, we were encouraged to build a prototype or demo which could illustrate how their idea might work in the real world.
Alongside the prototype, teams were asked to create a presentation or pitch. This final round up of their idea would describe the commercial viability of their concept, what value it brings to their chosen field, how users would actually use the product in the real world and any commercial opportunities the concept could take advantage of in the future. The teams could present their idea in any medium and style they saw fit. Some teams focused on creating technically accurate prototypes, some went for slick pitch proposals, whilst others went for a comedy video — whatever the medium the concepts and presentations had to be engaging, viable and brimming with creativity and innovation.
After 6 intense hours of hacking each team had finalised their ideas, created their prototypes and perfected their pitches. It was time to present! The range of ideas presented was wide but 2 key themes seemed to hold precedence. Namely; health & fitness and education & entertainment.
There were two products that chose the health and fitness angle:
ActivEAT’s vision was to help and inspire time-poor people to create better meals. The concept was that users would use the app to recognise a food type — the app would then display AR visuals of finished dishes to show what you could make. The value was in inspiring people to cook and also helping them move beyond the standard things that they might make every day. Users would be able to set preferences around dietary requirements, fitness goals etc. Their future vision was that the app could connect into grocery deliveries for painless inspiration to purchase. It could be developed to include AI that would recommend recipes based on account ingredients bought already — reducing wasted ingredients.
Balance, Your Yoga Guru
Balance is a guided Yoga AR experience that helps the user accurately practice yoga with the help of a shadow coach. It captures yoga poses from a real-life tutor using motion capture technology and utilises AR kit to place a model in a 3D world, keeping in alignment with the real world using the camera. The idea is to use a specially printed yoga matt with symbols as location placement for a 3D avatar. Various avatars may be applied to adapt the scale & theme for the user. There is also potential to align the avatar with the user’s own mat through an input of mat dimensions.
Education and entertainment also had a lot of potential use cases for AR technology; the four final teams chose these overlapping fields as their chosen subject and created apps that tapped into the tourism, entertainment and education industries. Three of those teams produced concepts that had a number of themes in common…
ExplorAR is a user-led, educational app that turns learning about a city’s history into a personal, immersive experience. Unlike other AR travel apps, ExplorAR has an interactive human tour guide who leads you around the city, making the experience more engaging. The team started by discussing the typical pain points experienced on traditional tours: being shown something you had already seen, being shown something you weren’t interested in, having to walk at the same pace as everyone else in the group, not being able to see or hear. The aim of ExplorAR was to help solve these issues.
For their future vision, the team expanded on this idea by describing the potential to have recognisable tour guides which would relate to the area or subject of the tour. For example, Isambard Kingdom Brunel talking about the SS Great Britain.
They also thought about how AR could show how things looked through time, such as old roman remains transforming in reverse to show how the building would have looked at the time of completion.
The team that created cARibou took a similar angle to ExplorAR, with an educational app aimed at tourists and students. cARibou is an interactive app that brings historical sites and events to life in cities of historical interest around the globe. The app would use geolocation to sense when users were near a particular site and prompt them to use the viewfinder to see popular historical sites come to life before their eyes. The team envisioned that the app would not only bring to life historical monuments, it could also project what sites would look like in the future, for example — the finished Sagrada Familia or new Olympic Stadiums. It would partner with TripAdvisor for tourists and could tailor content to meet curriculum subjects for visiting schools and colleges.
ARventure is an AR experience app that helps bring to life historical events and buildings in heritage sites throughout the UK. The team found through their research that over the past few years the number of people visiting heritage sites had dropped. By adding an AR experience, they could increase engagement, especially in younger people. The experiences could be in the form of battles shown in castles fields or knights fighting the grounds. Characters from their respective time periods could be seen going about their daily business. Using AR, their proposed app could rebuild broken down castles, and fill empty halls with furniture. The experience could be shown on a personal phone, or on tablets rented at the heritage location. Monetisation would come in the form of pay-per-experience. There would also be potential for season passes, covering multiple Heritage sites — this is something that would particularly appeal to schools and colleges. The team brought their idea to life with this hilarious re-enactment of a typical family day out — Oscar performances all round for this one.
ARventures created a video pitch to describe their concept.
The final team to pick entertainment as their chosen field took a slightly different angle. Their idea focused on the festival industry — one of the biggest growth markets in the UK.
Festival AR app
The festival industry is booming in the UK. From the established super festivals such as Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds; to the smaller, more specialist food and drink events that there’s been a surge of in recent years. The problems that individuals experience at these mass gatherings of people are generally the same. Long queues, bad signage, lost friends, no mobile coverage… the list goes on. The team decided to focus on how an AR app could help to solve these problems and give added benefit to festival goers. The three main areas the team focused on were; socialising & sponsorship, way-finding, and emerging technology.
Capitalising on emerging technology would be crucial for the other two areas to be feasible. Crowdsourcing information would allow the app to gain insight into the location of facilities at a particular festival and be able to heat map areas to give queue times. Understanding how bad signal and connectivity can be at events, the team decided to provide wifi services around the events to allow all connected devices to become hotspots — allowing all users to stay connected.
Wayfinding would help users locate facilities and each other. The users could search for a facility, person or specific event and a floating tag would pop up in the camera viewfinder to show users the way. This was demonstrated by an impressive demo in which the AR prototype hovered location tags on screen, showing the direction of the toilets within our office and of our Operations Director in the audience.
Socialising was pushed throughout, allowing users to connect through social media so that they could see where their friends were, ping them to meet up or even see things that they have marked to do at the event. Sponsorship could also be another revenue stream and the team demonstrated the commercial viability by talking about brand sponsorships with some of Mediabrand’s brand partners including Carlsberg, GoPro, and Spotify.
And the winners are…
After much deliberation from the judges, considering the commercial viability, innovation, usefulness of the concept AND the quality of the pitch and presentation, the winners were announced! And the winning team was… The Festival AR app! Judges were particularly impressed by the slick pitch from our Commercial Director Tom King and the faultless demonstration of the proposed tech by iOS developer Matt Collis. The overall concept impressed the judges due to its commercial viability — using Mediabrands’ brands to form brand partnerships, and it’s future vision in terms of white-labelling the app to gain full festival sponsorships.
Congratulations to the entire team – Tom King, Ryan French, David Higgs, Matt Collis, Sara Massaccesi and Ryan Dixon – for their amazing efforts.