Geo AR Games

Get your kids off the couch and physically active outside with augmented reality (AR) games.

Geo AR GamesIf your kids are anything like mine, they love to play games on their handheld devices. So much so, that it can be difficult to get them outside, even on a fine day. Geo AR Games lets them do both at the same time, augmenting public open spaces into exciting “mixed reality” play areas with a combination of real-world, virtual, and social features.

Let 12 year old Chris show you how it works:

Geo AR Games have two games out now: Sharks in the Park, and Magical Park. Sharks in the Park can be played in any open space in the world that’s at least 60m x 60m. They’re going to release a “world builder” next year which will enable kids to build their own games using a library of 3D models and animations. Think “Minecraft outdoors”.

Magical Park works only in specific locations selected by a local council, and has a specific set of council-selected experiences.

The games have built-in safety features, for example content disappears as the player approaches the edge of the play area, and the player will see a big stop sign on the screen when they get within 15m of a road or other hazard.

The games deliver on the promise to get kids running around outside. Initial data show that the average game session is 30 minutes, and kids run an average of 500m to 2km during a session. Kids don’t notice how much running they’ve done, as they’re too immersed in the game. And the games are social – even though each kid has their own device, they are playing in real life with each other, talking to and yelling at each other.

Both games are attracting a high level of interest from local governments, who want to see increased use of public spaces, and provide healthy, fun activities on them. Councils have been trying to find a way to use technology as a hook to get families out-of-doors for years, and this is potentially the solution they’ve been looking for. Auckland and Wellington Councils have launched trials, and other councils are queued up. Initial feedback is very positive.

Councils also see value in the game for marketing their other services, so for example winning a game of Magical Park could potentially get you free entry into the nearby public swimming pool.

Mel Langlotz and Amie Wolken

CEO Mel Langlotz has a career in visual effects and post production. She met CTO Amie Wolken when they were working together at Augview, a company that specialises in Geospatial Augmented Reality visualisation of infrastructure asset data. Amie has a unique combination of degrees in Law, Animal Biology/Psychology, and Computer Science. Amie quickly rose through the ranks at Augview from programmer to manager and ultimately director. The two had a vision of commercialising AR technology so that users could be fully immersed in an outdoor interactive experience, and be part of the storytelling. While infrastructure payed the bills, Mel and Amie knew that a far more exciting world lay ahead.

During this period, Mel was having huge difficulty in convincing her stepdaughter to get off the couch and play outside. And so the idea for Geo AR games was born.

In late 2015, Mel and Amie formed their new company, and immediately applied, and were accepted into Chile’s women-only S-Factory pre-accelerator incubator, which gave them a USD 20,000 grant. During S-Factory, they applied for and were accepted into the women founder led Lightning Lab XX accelerator programme. Mel arrived back from Chile literally the same day that the XX programme began. And they’ve just heard that they’ve been accepted into Te Papa’s Mahuki incubator programme, which begins in August. The team will be delivering outdoor AR exhibitions for Te Papa, which marks the beginning of developing a platform for AR cultural gaming experiences.

They’re a top team in a new, fast-moving field. They’ve been working together in the geospatial AR environment for three years now, which is more experience than most others can claim – they’re early adopters and first movers. They have complementary skills and really enjoy working with each other.

The game is based on the Unity platform, which provides the ability to deploy on both Android and iOS using a single code base. The game is fully contained in the download, so it doesn’t need to use mobile data during play. There are a number of difficulties in making a good geospatial AR game. The really hard part is understanding and dealing with the nuances of GPS – there are lots of environmental and device variables that affect accuracy and smoothness. On the AR side, it’s really hard to create content that looks realistic in the real world. It’s challenging to integrate data from the device’s sensors to keep the objects stable and look like they are part of that world rather than just overlaid. There’s a constant tradeoff between stability and accuracy.

They’re currently raising $300K to further develop the games and world builder, to sell to more local governments in New Zealand, and to begin exploring the overseas opportunities. They’ve already raised a successful NZD 10K Kickstarter, so you could say they’re out of the starting blocks.

They’re also looking to hire devs, with any combination of the following skills: C#, Unity, modular programming, game development, mobile app development (iOS, Android native plugins), AR or VR, computer vision and image processing, GNSS.

Contact the team if you’re interested.

If you want to give it a go yourself, you can download Magical Park (iOS or Android) and head down to any of the following parks –

In Wellington:

  • Kainui Reserve, Hataitai
  • Adventure Park, Whitby
  • Avalon Park (cycle circuit), Lower Hutt

And in Auckland:

  • Domain – museum
  • Domain – duck pond
  • Victoria Park
  • Pukekohe Hill
  • Roberta Ave
  • Onepoto A
  • Onepoto B
  • Okahu Bay
  • Harbourview
  • Long Bay

I’ll leave you with a lightly edited version of Melanie’s pitch on Demo Day – the investment parameters have been removed.

Disclosure: I’m a trustee in a trust that invested in the Lightning Lab XX Limited Partnership, which owns a very small stake in Geo AR Games.

Nine companies founded by women at Lightning Lab XX

You’re invited to Demo Day for nine female-led startups

This week we’re featuring not one startup, but nine!

There’s no question that women are underrepresented in startups, and in the tech scene in general. This is despite the fact that in a recent study, First Round Capital found that companies with a female founder outperformed all-male founding teams by 63%.

New Zealand’s own Lightning Lab accelerator is doing their bit to support women entrepreneurs, and launched Lightning Lab XX earlier this year. On Demo Day, the teams will pitch to investors and you’re invited to come along and enjoy the presentations.

When: Thursday 16 June, 4pm
Where: Embassy Theatre, Kent Terrace, Wellington
Entry: Free, but RSVP is mandatory

Don’t miss out, RSVP now.
rsvp

Here are the teams, described in their own words:

NoticeMATCH

noticematch-logo

Jon Hall and Sue Skeet
Jon Hall and Sue Skeet

NoticeMatch helps any business ensure their customer’s final experience is achieved a timely and empathetic manner. We empower them by identifying deceased customers quickly, thus giving them the tool to undertake their legal, moral or ethical obligations and build great relationships with the surviving families.

CEO: Sue Skeet
CTO: Jon Hall

Geo AR Games

Geo AR Games

Mel Langlotz and Amy Wolken
Mel Langlotz and Amy Wolken

Geo AR Games get kids off the couch and active outside using Outdoor Mixed Reality technology. Mixed Reality combines digital content with a real-time video feed to create immersive experiences. By pairing this with Motion Gaming, kids explore digital content by walking and running. This solution encourages healthy relationships with technology by creating games that kids love.

CEO: Mel Langlotz
CTO: Amy Wolken

Liangma

liangma

Denny Zou and Steve Chin
Denny Zou and Steve Chin

Liangma allows quality-sensitive buyers to order fresh, free-range chicken for home delivery. The company connects free-range farms with inner-city buyers through a digital platform and logistics network. This creates an easy and reliable way for their Chengdu-based customers to buy the best poultry products. Liangma’s promise of 24h delivery fits perfectly with the Chinese culture of eating the freshest, highest quality produce.

CEO: Denny Zou
CSO: Steve Xin

Hive

hive

hive-team
John Huang, Jess Knipping, Steve Jasionowicz, Vanessa Wilson, Charlie Coppinger

Hive brings communities together by connecting people who need a hand with those who have the time and skills to help. At the heart of Hive is the idea that trust is valuable, and that communities can build trust. Using a mobile app, Hive facilitates finding and matching jobs, and processing payments. The app helps to build a trusted community by connecting locals to get work done.

CEO: Vanessa Wilson
CDO: Charlie Coppinger

Little Yellow Bird

lyb_transparent

Samantha Jones and Hannah Duder

Little Yellow Bird is a company that supplies businesses with more than just a uniform. LYB produces high quality workwear, through a completely transparent and ethical supply chain. They have a wide range of workwear such as custom business shirts to t-shirts, hoodies to aprons. This provides companies with an opportunity to turn their uniforms into marketing.

CEO: Samantha Jones
CSO: Hannah Duder

Sipreme

sipreme

Bri Jense van Rensburg and Dené Steyn

Sipreme is joyful future food – healthy, nutritionally complete, and super convenient. For busy people with cooler stuff to do than burn toast in the morning, this is it. It’s a fast, liquid meal that gives the adult body every nutrient it needs! The product iterates for each new batch, following their feedback. It’s the perfect, healthy solution for unromantic, functional meals.

CEO: Dené Steyn
VP Product: Bri Janse van Rensburg

 

Ama Balm

ama

Lucy Reutter and Jo Higgins
Lucy Reutter and Jo Higgins

Ama Balm is a natural balm used by adventurers to hydrate their weathered skin after being exposed to the elements. Launching only 8 months ago, Ama Balm is already featured in major surf, ski and adventure towns in NZ. The company aims to build a natural skin care range that serves the needs of adventurers across the globe.

CEO: Jo Higgins
VP Sales: Lucy Reutter

Music Ecademy

musicecademy

Jaroslav Novak and Helen Jones

Music Ecademy is a web application that teaches music theory and aural skills in a fun and engaging way through interactive lessons, quizzes, and games. The application helps to engage students while also saving teachers valuable time and resources. The curriculum is relevant for music schools and teachers in Australia, NZ and the UK.

CEO: Jaroslav Novak
Head of Product: Helen Jones

PatternSnap

patternsnap

Virginia Fay and Steven Dodd

Patternsnap is a digital library of Interior Design samples for Designers and Showrooms. It provides a beautiful, simple tool to search for products and create schemes. Patternsnap saves designers precious time, enabling access to a comprehensive database of unique samples. Currently available as an iOS app, Patternsnap is a virtual showroom in your pocket.

CEO: Virginia Fay
CTO: Steven Dodd

 

I’ll be there with bells on, and I hope you’ll come and join me too!

But don’t forget to RSVP.
rsvp

Disclosure: I’m a trustee of a trust that invested a small amount in the Lightning Lab XX Limited Partnership, which in turn invested in each of these startups at the beginning of the programme providing them with “ramen funding” for the duration of the programme. I have also provided weekly mentoring to NoticeMatch during the programme. And I’m on the Lightning Lab Advisory Board.