Geo AR Games

Geo AR Games is already in discussions with local councils. Schools might present a better bet, given councils’ decision-making processes can make glaciers look like greased lightning. Auckland has around 1000 parks and reserves, 10% of which that would suit Geo AR Games’ games. They’re controlled by 21 local boards, so Langlotz isn’t holding her breath over when there’ll be decisions about which will host Magical Park installations.

Councils do have incentives to get Magical Park into their venues. They’re committed to better use of “inactive” green space. While Geo AR Games isn’t offering its service for free, the annual fee per installation costs less than the annual maintenance costs for a playground, let alone the capital cost of build and intallation. Apart from signage, there’s no capital cost for Magical Park.

Other than, hopefully, into more parks, what’s happening – or not happening – with the games in the near future?

“We’re currently running a Hallowe’en-themed Magical Park in select parks in Wellington until 7 November,” Langlotz said. Come December that will be superceded by a Christmas one, which shows a lot more restraint than many retailers, who’ve got Christmas goods on the shelves even before Halloween has arrived.

Over the next 12 months, other calendar events will drive more themes. While the game contains enough random elements to give players a different experience every time, it’s important to refresh the content to encourage repeat use of the app.

Going forward the development of the games is down to a number of factors, some of them within Geo AR Games’ control, some not.

One that isn’t is data transfer speeds over mobile networks. It would be good to make the games multi-level, but that adds considerably to the size of the apps and the amount of data they store.

Ditto for multi-player options, which are also a data-munching step too far for the moment – although that’s not the only reason not to go to multi-player.

Multi-player options also create ethical considerations, of which Langlotz is very conscious. Geo AR Games will give parents a password to control who their kids’ devices can connect to, so they can play with friends or siblings instead of strangers.

There are other ethical concerns, and Langlotz is across those too. In-app advertising is a fairly common route to monetisation these days, and Geo AR Games has put restrictions around what it will accept.

“Generally, we operate pretty similar guidelines to those around TV broadcasting for children,” Langlotz says. “We don’t allow advertising for products that don’t involve or aren’t associated with physical activity.”

They also don’t allow data-mining, so parents need have no concern that anything their kids put into the app isn’t going to anyone other than the developers.

During her time at the incubator in Santiago, Langlotz was mixing with other start-ups that were using similar AR tech but for application in different industries, air traffic control for one. It was a good opportunity for collaboration, because companies were all able to share some of their research as they weren’t in competition.

There’s other research going on around use of VR and AR in medical fields, some of which Tribeca’s Opeyemi Olukemi touched on in her Big Screen Symposium presentation. There’s also no doubt that plenty of people view AR as having multi-billion dollar potential.