Today is Saint Valentine and we all are looking for something awesome to show our special ones to demonstrate them how much we love them. But it is not always easy: we all work too much and have little time to prepare something that can astonish the people we love. That’s why we developed Portable Love Party, an AR app to melt the heart of your Valentine!
It all started some weeks ago, when I and Max were talking about doing some portfolio projects for our new AR/VR consultancy agency New Technology Walkers ([ad mode: on] do you need a consultancy? Contact us, we’re very nice people 🙂 [ad mode: off]). At the same time, I was thinking about something to do at Valentine’s day. My brain started wondering and remembering the VR Easter greeting card prototype that I do at the times I had my Immotionar startup…
… so I said: “Why don’t we do a Saint Valentine greeting card in AR? This way we could have a portfolio project and also something original to show at Valentine’s day to our girls… and we could at the same time give to all other XR enthusiasts the same opportunity :D”. Yes, it was a genius idea, I know.
Those days we also got contacted by the Aryzon team, those awesome guys that are making that very cheap viewer for AR, that everyone has started calling “the Cardboard of augmented reality“. They asked me if, since I like their project, I was interested in developing an app for their platform. Uhm… why not? We could use it to make our Saint Valentine application become even more immersive, more realistic! You could put your phone inside the Aryzon viewer, give it to your girl (or boy… there are women in XR, too!) and say: “this is for you”. This way she could be even more astonished by viewing all the virtual elements come to life right in front of her eyes, without a screen through which see everything! Wow!
We started brainstorming and I had this idea of a “portable party”: you put the AR headset in front of the eyes of the person that has to celebrate and a little party comes to life all around her in augmented reality. If you can’t have a real party, at least you can have a virtual one. And the fact that the “virtual party” appears in the real world, makes it more realistic, makes it feel as if it is really happening and this gives sense to the use of AR technology.
I also had this invention of starting with a surprise box, like a Fed-Ex parcel from which all the party comes out, I think makes everything intriguing and also gives the app a clear starting point (the party doesn’t begin until the user looks at the box, so she can’t miss the beginning).
For Valentine’s day, it could be great to create a romantic setup on the table, with candles, some champagne and a gift for our loved one. So, the idea was making her look at the table, telling her: “see what awesome thing I have arranged for you” and see the romantic setting appear in front of her eyes. And so we started doing.
The plan was making an Aryzon app, but we also wanted the greatest number possible of people to experience it, so we wanted also to create a version for smartphone alone. The app should be compatible with any kind of Android phones, so we discarded ARCore and used the standard Vuforia framework. I know, it introduces the nuisance of having a marker, but at the moment developing for XR requires a lot of compromises. We also decided to not insert any kind of reference to “Saint Valentine” inside the app, so that it can be used every day of the year to show some love and this to increase its durability.
Given the use of a marker and the not optimal tracking offered by the Aryzon framework, we designed the AR scene to be quite little and simple and without almost any interaction. Time and money were also issues, so, considered all this, we understood we couldn’t bet on the graphical outcome or the innovative UX and we had to make the experience more romantic and personal. That’s why we thought about adding a nice music and especially some romantic sentences that could move the user. We bet on the emotional component of the experience: the Portable Party should make the person feel loved… it has not just to be a collection of nice items in AR. And I think we have succeeded in this. I just squeezed my heart to write the sentences… and then I got to see some good action movies to feel manly again…
Time was very little to do something polished, so we decided to do the best we could do to release something usable for February, 14th… even if it were just a prototype. And we did it! Thanks to the Unity Asset Store, Turbosquid, and Freesound we got all the assets. Luckily we already had some experience with Vuforia and Aryzon SDK, so development went quite smoothly and in the end, we managed to finish v0.1 yesterday evening. This means that Portable Love Party is now a reality!
If you want to try it, to use it with your special person, you can download it from my brand new Projects page. I’ll spare you a click if you want, and I’ll provide you the download links even here. These are guaranteed to work at the time of writing, but if they’re not working when you’re reading this article, it is because I’ve moved them (currently they are inside my Dropbox), so refer always to the Projects page for the most updated links.
Marker: It is the standard Aryzon marker that you can download from here. We also made a more romantic version that you can find here. If you think that printing the marker is a nuisance, remember that it works even just by staying on your screen. So you can open it on your laptop and then make your SO point her smartphone towards your laptop screen.
Download Portable Love Party Android version: link
Download Portable Love Party Aryzon version: link
INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS: since I’m providing you some APKs, there are some steps to be taken:
- Enable “Unknown Sources apps” in the settings of your phone. It is quite easy: just go to Settings -> Security and find some option to allow Unknown sources apps to be installed;
- Download the app on your phone using the links provided above;
- Go to the download section of your browser and click on the just downloaded files and install it. If installation doesn’t work (Android says that “Can’t open file”), go to Step 4;
- Open the file manager of your Android phone and locate the just downloaded file. Open it, it should start installing it now.
(Thanks to Stack Overflow for having taught me how to do this)
Of course, you can also use the nerd way and download the APK on your PC and then use adb to install it, I always make this way.
USAGE INSTRUCTIONS: Just run the app, frame the marker and look at the initial box to let the party begin. Once the “I LOVE YOU” sentence get shown, the experience is over and you can close it.
We know, the app is just a free prototype and there are a lot of improvements that can be done, but we think that it is already nice this way. Of course, we are very open to any kind of feedback and suggestions. Let us know what you think about it, on my social media channels or here in the comments section! And of course, if you liked it, share it with your friends….
We’d really like that you use it to show some love to your Valentine and we really hope that it could help you in having a good evening with her/him 😉 . Make her stay standing, put the special marker on the table, launch the app, show her your special suprise and then see her smile.
Portable Love Party is our gift for today for all people in love. We wish you all a fantastic Saint Valentine’s day!
(This post is dedicated to S.)
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