In 2011, thousands of people saw the Sasquatch in Mission. Photos of the beast in the Fraser River Heritage Park started circulating on social media, and new visitors began driving down to the area, keen to catch a glimpse.
Despite appearances, though, the Sasquatch—of course—wasn’t really there.
The hairy giant was a creation by Vancouver-based company, QuestUpon. One of a number of legendary creatures brought to life by the business, the Sasquatch was animated and placed into the real world using location-based augmented reality (AR): a technique popularized by the Pokémon Go app. Generating a digital simulation that appears in a particular place, the technology let users hold up their phone screens in the park to see the mythical being, and take screenshots of the scene.
“Our company started with the Legend Tracker,” Miles Marziani, co-founder of the business, tells the Georgia Straight on the line from his Vancouver office. “We made the Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Ogopogo. The app features interactive walking adventures that combine trivia, augmented reality, and gamification, and that model is great for storytelling. Our goal was to bring games outside, and get people out of the house.”
Since then, the company has worked with a number of high-profile tourism, heritage, and business organizations. With a portfolio that includes creating an interactive path that marks out Gold Rush trails across British Columbia, crafting a giant augmented reality unicorn for the keynote speech of the BC Tech Summit, and bringing AR to New York’s Times Square, QuestUpon offers a varied collection of experiences to anyone with a phone.
Now, the company has embarked on a new venture—transforming the sports industry in association with the BC Lions.
“Craig Roh, who was one of the players, initially reached out to us,” Marziani says. “He mentioned that the team was looking for new ways to engage with their fans. He put us in touch with the business development department, and they expressed that they really wanted to engage with a younger audience, those in their 20s and 30s. From there, we started building something that hadn’t been done in football before.”
After the success of an initial partnership with the sports company, QuestUpon this year were commissioned to create the BC Lions EXP app—a platform that allowed any fan to connect with the team in augmented and virtual reality using just their smartphone. Released on July 12, the app rolled out features that individuals could enjoy at home and at the stadium.
“There are a lot of mini-games on the app,” Marziani says. “We combine trivia with augmented reality, for example, and there are prizes to be won. There is the chance to take a picture of the mascot Leo the Lion, who appears in AR wherever you happen to be—whether that’s at the game or in your living room. You can play catch with Jonathan Jennings, and there are games where parachutes come down, and when you tap on them a crate opens up and different prizes and gifts come out. There are leaderboards for the games too, where you can win more prizes—thousands of dollars’ worth.
“The BC Lions wanted to work more closely with us, because they saw how successful our first partnership was,” he continues. “The EXP app has everything a sports fan would expect to have—news, video, rosters, schedules, ticket purchases—and a lot more.”
The platform has yet to accrue enough reviews to register a rating on the App Store, but the reception has so far been very positive, Marziani says.
“After we put out our first quest—a small one as a tester—it’s been absolutely great. We hadn’t released the full EXP app by the start of the very first game of the season, so we had a lot of people asking about when the quests are coming. We’re very excited about this, and to have created the first app of this kind in pro sports with the BC Lions.”
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