Case: Gothenburg Startup Hack

Two of our colleagues in Gothenburg participated in the competition Gothenburg Startup Hack, which is a part of the Gbg Tech Week. Their contribution to the competition, that won, was an application for digital tourism. It lets the user make extremely lifelike trips in a virtual environment – to wherever they want to go. Read the story here.

THE CHALLENGE

In the competition you had to, in less than 10 hours, develop an app of any kind that could be the basis for a successful startup company. In other words, a well thought out app that uses the latest technologies / APIs / tools with good UX and above all a great business idea.

THE ASSIGNMENT

The competition started with contestants sending in ideas on what they wanted to do, which techniques to use etc.  We were one of about 25 teams that got their idea approved and actually got to be in the competition.

Our idea was based on digital tourism and in the app you could pin places on a map (Google maps) that you want to visit. The app will then generate a rout that goes from the first pin to the last. After that you would end up in a virtual environment identical to reality and the app would take the user from the first pin to the last pin. The user would get the experience of flying on a small aircraft between the destinations, the user would also see everything around them as if they were actually there in reality. To increase the feeling of reality we wanted the user to be able to see the surroundings just by turning their heads – tilt the device that the app is used on. The device that the app is supposed to be run on is an Oculus Rift, but it will work on any device that has an accelerometer. 

THE SOLUTION

We made the application as a web application based on the criteria above totally in JavaScript with the help of a few APIs/libraries:

  • Google Maps Street View API – allows us to use map data and a few functions that is similar to Google Maps Street View.
  • Three.js and WebGL – allows and helps us to use 3D rendering on the website.
  • Hyperlapse.js – helps count the distance and motion in the virtual invirorment.
  • Full-Tilt.js – allows us to download input from the device’s accelerometer.

The app contains two different views, one to navigate in the virtual environment that is identical to reality (Google street view) with help of a device with an accelerometer.  And one where the user can build their own road trip and travel around and look at things as if they were actually there. 

THE RESULT

The result was much better than expected where everything we wanted to achieve actually worked. And we manage to implement it in less than 10 hours. The application works on all devices that have an accelerometer, but the experience is best on an Oculus Rift. The app could potential be used by people who for different reasons can’t travel in reality but also for marketing cities, countries and travel agencies etc. 

See a demo of the application here.