At the start of this hackathon, our entire team began by brainstorming a plethora of ideas on the whiteboard. We spent numerous hours ideating, debating and voting on the one idea that we thought would not only be the most innovative hackathon project but also attempt to tackle an emerging technology that we believed was going to be the future of tomorrow. As we decided to take a break, one of our team member's started scrolling twitter when they discovered an individual by the name of Nathan Gitter. One of the latest projects he was working on and had tweeted about was imagining future AR interactions with wearables. And then it hit us....Augmented Reality (or AR) was a fairly untapped space, yet the possibilities of creating an interactive user experience were endless.

What it does

InstAR brings augmented reality into life at the palm of your hands. With the use of an iPhone app it uses the iPhone’s camera to analyze the surroundings around the user. When the camera detects a certain image, additional information is shown in the form of augmented reality. For example, when the app detects the poster for the movie Spiderman – Into the Spiderverse it starts playing the trailer for the movie on the iPhone, overlaying the image of the advertisement. This allows something such as a static poster to be turned into an interactive activity for the user. It creates a more exciting experience for the user as well as boots promotion for the movie.

How we built it

home screen AR Banner AR Movie poster AR Apple Watch app extension

We used Xcode to make use of Swift and ARKit to develop our application. We were able to upload this app to an iPhone which we used for testing. Since we did not have access to movie posters, we used an iPad to display a movie poster in its place. We did additional testing with art on a piece of paper to ensure that our app can detect content that is not being displayed on a screen. Our tests were successful, and we were able to demonstrate the functionality of our app.

Challenges we ran into

The biggest challenge that we ran into while developing InstAR was truly getting started with the platform. None of the members on the team had ever worked on any sort of AR project in the past and it was definitely a little intimidating at first to learn a bunch of new platforms/languages in a span of just 24 hours.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

As a team, we believe that our biggest accomplishment is being able to overcome our obstacle of not having past experience with AR. By the end of the hackathon not only were we able to learn a new language/platform but also go once step further and actually apply our learnings to a variety of different use cases that we see a potential for AR to grow in, by showcasing our working application.

What we learned

On the technical side, we learned how to use Swift and ARKit. This was the first time for all of us using these tools. By researching we learned how AR is being implemented in several different ways around the world, such as in the video that inspired us to use AR. From brainstorming and coming up with the idea for our application we learned about the ways that AR could possibly affect our lives in the future.

What's next for InstAR

There is a lot of prospect in the future of InstAR. This technology could also be used to promote events outside of movies and hackathons. It could be used to share links regarding more information about certain events, or play a sample of a live concert that a poster is advertising for. Beyond that, we believe that InstAR could be used in other places such as museums. For example, at the ROM there are skeletons of dinosaurs placed out in the form of how they once lived. Using AR, the user could look at the dinosaur bones through their iPhones and view on their screens how the dinosaurs once looked millions of years ago. This would take advantage of the technology available to us and make museums much more interactive for users of all ages. We truly believe that InstAR has the potential to be very prominent in the future.

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