I attended the team-building session for the hack-athon, and many people had the idea of an AR scavenger hunt. I thought this was a good idea, but lacked a backing purpose other than fun - if people didn't want to take a part in the scavenger hunt, then there is nothing stopping them from not doing so. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but creates an opportunity for an app more geared towards education.
What it does
PrepARate is a VR app designed to demonstrate to children various procedures in a hospital in a kid-friendly and calming manner. Ideally, after using the app, children will both be informed of what they may have to go through and also comforted that everything will be OK. This would likely be done with QR codes scattered around the hospital, and children exploring the hospital to find them with their families.
How we built it
I had tried to use Unity engine to create a demo of this idea, but I quickly ran into problems as described in the next portion of this summary.
Challenges we ran into
At first, I thought the creation of this demo was smooth-sailing. The last time when I used Unity Engine was almost a decade ago, so it took me a while to learn how to use Unity. I had also never programmed with C# before, so that was also somewhat of a challenge. Nonetheless, I managed to get a map constructed and a plan for a prototype established. However, my largest setback was not a technical limitation, but a realization. What I was doing was a video-game equivalent of an AR experience, and I had some somewhat ambitious ideas of the scale of this operation at the time. This resulted in me realizing that not only was it possible that I was creating a prototype for something that may not even work (AR controlled by RFID location tracking and object recognition, rather than QR codes), but it was impractical for the demo to exist in anything else than an AR environment. At this point the ambition of the project became intimidating - at this point I was only just familiar with the Unity engine and still pretty clueless about C#, and creating an AR solution to this was down-right scary. This, combine with the fact that I had been working on my project for over 7 hours, discouraged me, and resulted in me just giving up and creating a presentation over my idea.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Despite my failure, learning how to use Unity even at a basic level awakened something in me, to put it bluntly. Working to create something, albeit primitive, was exciting, and although I probably won't pursue PrepARate any further in the future, I will probably still work on the Unity engine both for practice and for fun. Furthermore, writing even the simple code that I did to make my prototype function was just as exciting; I hadn't written code since my sophomore year in High School, and getting back into programming was motivating (for a while, at least). Lastly, what portions of a prototype I did get done I am happy with, relatively - not happy enough to present in the hackathon, as described above.
What we learned
The largest thing I learned is that I should ignore my hubris and look for a team next time. I knew that I was inexperienced when I started this hackathon, but I still had this confidence that I could do it by myself, exasperated by my desire to be in control of everything that was made. I now know that this is infeasible, and I should have gotten a team. Other than this, I learned how to use the basics of the Unity Engine, and the very basics of c#.
What's next for PrepARate
Next would be to create a working prototype, and likely to construct a story to tell through PrepARate, whether it be a more serious story of a person getting into surgery scared and coming out confident, or a sillier story of a cartoon character telling jokes all throughout his experience.