About the Client
The Locale is a unique, user friendly app that supports businesses and gives customers the confidence to feel safe and well informed. Grant Thomson, the CEO of The Locale, came to us with an idea to revolutionise the retail, tourism and hospitality world using Augmented Reality, advanced location services and engaging, animated 3D assets.
The first requirement of The Locale was a mobile application that would allow users to:
- Experience and explore augmented reality trails around a city.
- Be notified of augmented reality redemptions around the city which would offer discounts and promotional offers for local businesses.
- Notify and deploy an augmented reality experience to increase dwell time in an augmented reality experience.
- Act as a virtual tourist app that shows nearby venues and points of interest to a user. This is activated through users holding their phone up and seeing virtual signs and icons displayed using advanced location services.
The second requirement was a web based Content Management System, which would allow for:
- Admin control over the app
- Adding new augmented reality experiences to the app such as routes and easter egg hunts
- Onboarding businesses and venues onto the CMS
- A business portal where B2B customers could create virtual tours and redemption models for The Locale
We worked with The Locale team to develop comprehensive wireframe and UI designs for all aspects of the project. These designs were refined to ensure the satisfaction of the end user experience.
Working with St Helens council and Teesside University, we developed an interactive Christmas AR experience. This prototype has several holiday themed scenes from an explorable Santa’s grotto, a sleigh takeoff and magical AR portal.
The final application was built using Flutter, Unity and Google Firebase.
Cross Platform AR App
OpenKit developed bespoke new technology for this project that allowed for high performance iOS and Android versions of the app to be built from the same code base. This allowed for fast paced development at a significantly smaller timeline compared to building two seperate native apps.
Realtime, Streamable AR Experiences
Scalability is always at the heart of any project we undertake at OpenKit. Initial prototypes required AR assets to be included in the App and Play store versions of the app. We improved this by developing a bespoke system for streaming augmented reality experiences to the app without the need for additional rebuilds. Content could be dynamically updated from the CMS and displayed to users in real time.
Location based AR
A significant challenge for this project was having AR assets that were fixed in the real world. Phones have limited GPS and Compass accuracy and this caused issues with initial prototypes. Using our team’s multidisciplinary skill set, we were able to develop algorithms that could reduce and in many cases eliminate location based errors. This means assets can be played in the real world and remain fixed for all users to see.
Realistic, future proof AR
The AR systems developed for The Locale include real time lighting and shadows. Particle systems for snow and rain, as well as high resolution textures and effects such as steam and fire.
Content Management System
The Content Management System was built using React.js and hosted on a serverless backend.
Inside the CMS, The Locale admins can add onboard and add new venues to show up on the app. This uses Google’s Map API to grab details about a business and pre-fill relevant information.
Added venues will be provided their own scoped login to the CMS that allows them to add routes and redemption codes for Locale users to discover and use for discounts and free items.