Conceptual AR Mobile App
POCket Tour is a mobile app that is designed to curate self-guided tours to help new visitors experience cities in fun ways using AR technology. This app allows people to find new restaurants to enjoy, tourist attractions to visit, and so much more. This app is mainly focuses on highlighting local businesses owned by people of color to help promote to the public.
I partnered up with a team of students to prototype a conceptual mobile app as a final project for B IMD 362.
1 Project Manager, 2 Front-End Developers, 1 Back-End Developer, and 1 Researcher.
Feb 2019 - Mar 2019
How could we design an experience that would empower users to explore their cities in new ways?
According to an article posted on The Seattle Times, nearly 40 million people have visited the city of Seattle in 2017. The city has been famously known to have many tourist attractions and one of the most significant areas that is often overlooked is the International District Chinatown.
POCket Tour is a mobile application that educates people in learning about the rich culture and history of Seattle's International District. Using geolocation and augmented reality, the app provides a meaningful experience that visualizes the historical significance of East Asian landmarks and tells the story of people of color in the area.
We decided to reach out to the local businesses to share their stories and experiences of what this area means to them and the community. We not only wanted to showcase attractive places people could visit, but creating a platform that holds personal messages and excerpts from the locals.
Harry & Tai Tung
We had the opportunity to interview Harry Chan, restaurant owner of Tai Tung, to gain his perspective of the cultural significance of his restaurant to the Chinatown area.
"Tai Tung have been here for long time. Since 1935, we do have a lot of history."
"A lot of Chinese immigrants live in this area. They come to Tai Tung to eat home cooking and at the same time, they come meet people and their friends. Sometimes when friends go to China, they would ask them to say hello to family and bring money for them. "
"I grew up here. I've been in Chinatown for 50 years. Okay, so I have my heart in this area. I hope the area don't change too rapidly and too much, but, it's not under my control."
Harry Chan is the third generation owner of Tai Tung
Our group wanted to design an app that teaches people more about the communities that inhabit the International District and sharing their personal stories. We generated a simple wireframe of what the user flow would look like when interacting with our product with the incorporation of visual and audio AR.
To start a tour, users need to start up the app and choose which kind of experience they would like to follow. People are able to edit and choose different locations and the app would automatically provide the best route for you. As you walk during your tour, you're approached with audible and visual AR elements that present you facts and information of the historic landmarks you walk alongside your tour. Users are able to bring up their phones and use their rear camera to view these historical markers.
Low Fidelity Mock Ups
Faking the Code
I knew that this project included many technical aspects for this application to perform correctly. However, this was my first time in creating a mobile application in augmented reality. With the time constraints we had and learning how to use Xcode, I had to fake the functionality of the mobile app to try and create a believable video prototype.
Instead of including geolocation, I was able to write code that detects walls and surfaces that was able to test on a mobile device. With this feature being added, our app was able to recognize vertical surfaces and this was very important because I was going to virtually tag these walls with our information cards. After this step, I created a simple array that contained all of the AR assets that my designers made. The final part of code I needed was including a feature that allowed users to place these AR assets onto the detected surfaces by tapping on the screen. With all of that working properly, I was able to set up the scene by placing our images onto the walls in augmented reality. This pretended that these cards were generated by detecting the device's geolocation thus creating a believable video prototype that it actually works.
Early Prototypes & Deliverables
Final Prototype Design
When the app launches, people are introduced about how this app works and how it's suppose to highlight historical monuments that is significant to the East Asian cultures.
Entering Different Locations
Users can edit their recommended tours by customizing the locations they would like to visit. Then the app will curate a route for people to follow that will optimize a specialized tourist experience.
Touring in Augmented Reality
When people arrive to their destinations, the app will notify them to use their rear view cameras to find information cards within augmented reality.
Write a Review
After the tour is over, people are recommended to leave a review and share their experiences for others to see.
Reflection & Key takeways
The experience in learning how to use Xcode and AR scene kit was a big challenge. The scope of the project was very ambitious with how much time we had in making a finished mobile prototype. I was struggling to learn how to track the user's location when using their mobile device so I ended up coding the plane detection model. This was very difficult for me because I was still learning how to use the program and was not fluent in Objective-C language. If we had more time to further develop this app, I would've liked to have the code working properly so we could perform usability testing for people to explore the city.
Despite my inability to create a fully functional AR app, we were able to provide a convincing prototype that showcased our concept very well. I think that this project has a lot of potential in using AR in a creative way. If this product was further developed in the future, I would like it to see expand to other locations to educate more people about the different cultures in their cities and can be a helpful tour guide for travelers.