A bridge between business students from Haas and engineers from the Sutardja Dai Center, Cal's first Augmented Reality Hackathon sought to close the gap between two seemingly distant majors in order to create something beautiful. Within the span of the next 18 hours, our team worked hard to develop Shadow, including its business and technological implications.
During the length of the project, we developed go-to-market strategies, long term creative content, and visions for future builds, with the goal of someday bringing Shadow to life. With Walmart as the largest sponsor for this event, we were tasked with creating AR based application that improved the shopping experience.
Shadow is essentially a cross product of modern hardware advancements and the classic business approach. Augmented Reality has opened new channels for both engineering and business spectrums to innovate and expand. The potential to see a new dimension of information only added to our curiosity.
So we thought to ourselves:
How can a large retail business like Walmart, take advantage of this technology?
After much deliberation, we finally found our answer:
Advertisements & Online Purchasing in an augmented 3D medium.
Shadow is able to recognize target images and we used the famous Coca Cola logo for our example. Upon recognizing the image through your smartphone's camera, it would then display products associated with Coca Cola and its attributes such as cost, Walmart rating, sales, and image thumbnails. Available items would then be available for purchase either in app or through an external link.
While our intention was to also incorporate video and 3D object recognition into the mix, we unfortunately did not have enough time to do so. However, this is something we can pursue outside of the hackathon.
We borrowed Stock API from Walmart, who was also a sponsor for the hackathon, and Vuforia Image Recognition technology to make this happen. Using the Unity 3D platform, I was in charge of writing the C# scripts that integrated the Vuforia, and Walmart API and packaging them into an executable app for the Android platform.
The few hiccups I ran into dealt with instances such as:
Google CSE Invalid 404 Errors
JSON parsing and trailing special characters
Walmart API Integration
After consulting help from mentors and sponsor engineers at the hackathon, I was able to overcome these obstacles. On the business side of things, our team had disagreements about our primary source of revenue. Were we licensing the product for corporations, or were we holding the product independently? After lots of coffee, storyboarding, and guidance from several MBA students, we unanimously agreed that licensing the product was best form of action.
Through strategic partnerships with major corporations, we would drive large marketing campaigns through Shadow. This would take the form of digital media such as QR codes on billboards, TV ads, or product images. Our clients would be curating the content, while we would be providing the software necessary to go to market.
Results + Thoughts
Out of the 15+ teams that participated, we placed 2nd overall! I really do believe that our specialized acumen as a team brought us to this point. It took a lot of work, ideation, and going back to the drawing board to make our ideas a reality and it has truly been a rewarding experience. Now I very much look forward to participating in more hackathons in the near future!
The main script for our project is available on github: www.github.com/jasonxyun
The DevPost for our project is also available here: https://devpost.com/software/shadow
A huge shoutout and thank you to my teammates who helped make this happen!
Brian Yang - Graphic Designer
Jacob Han - Software Engineer
Mark Annevelink - Marketing / Business Strategy
Mariana Villalvazo Martín - Marketing / Business Strategy