Escape to Mars: An AR Scavenger Hunt at Augmented World Expo

The Augmented World Expo is the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) with events in the USA, Asia and Europe. was given the opportunity to build an augmented reality scavenger hunt app for conference attendees.

Can We Build an AR Scavenger Hunt in Under 4 Weeks?

By the time an agreement was in place, had a little less than 4 weeks to build a scavenger hunt app for attendees of AWE 2017 in Santa Clara, CA. The goal was to create an app that would enhance the conference experience without disrupting it. We chose to develop a Vuforia-powered app that would use image targets from around the show floor to allow attendees to play through an augmented reality scavenger hunt.

Our Process

Given our very limited development time, we used our Mindwar template as a starting point for the app. The rapid prototyping enabled by, allowed us to experiment with several themes--from spy to mystery to horror. We eventually settled on a sci-fi “Escape to Mars” game where visitors needed to solve a series of puzzles in order to escape from a collapsing asteroid.

One of the biggest challenges we faced was logistical: we weren’t going to have access to the show floor until the day the conference started. We needed to improvise and turn our office into the setting for AWE 2017. We authored the full experience in using temporary image markers that we set up around our office in Burnaby, BC.

When we got to the conference, we set to work creating the final version of the experience that the attendees would play. Because allows us to make changes through the authoring tool directly, we were able to scout the show floor for candidate image targets and re-author the experience on site. Simply clicking “Publish” in the portal brought the experience to life without having to update the app itself.

testing our AR scavenger hunt off-site

The App

The “Escape to Mars” app was released just in time for the conference on iOS and Android. It supported a number of features:

  • Vuforia-powered vision AR for inspecting and collecting game items
  • GPS-driven Location-AR allowed some items to be spawned at fixed GPS locations around the show floor
  • Play and display a variety of media types: image, video, audio, and 3D models

The ability to make changes on the fly through the authoring tool was crucial to the success of this project. We were able to tweak the gameplay on the day of the event as we observed traffic patterns and found that some of our chosen targets were regularly screened by large groups of people.

We updated and refined the app for World's Fair Nano in San Francisco in the spring of 2018.

Want to Check Out the Demo?

Download the app and image markers today!

Augmented reality scavenger hunt - Escape to Mars screenshot
Augmented reality scavenger hunt screen shot

Mission: complete - app created, delivered and enjoyed by conference attendees in less than 4 weeks

Though conceptualizing, designing and creating an AR scavenger hunt app in under four weeks is not for the faint of heart, we did it! With rapid prototyping and easy game edits made possible with Motive, we were able to deliver an engaging app that helped increase conference engagement.

So much fun playing AR game at AWE! It was a perfect example of a multiuser interactive AR experience!


Want to Check out the Demo?

Download the app and image markers today to test out the demo version of this app.