An iOS game that utilizes Augmented Reality to find hidden perks to local businesses throughout the neighborhoods of Los Angeles



Marion Loss, Jennifer Pinai, Gabriela Santiago
Lead Visual Designer, Researcher
Whiteboard, Sketch, InVision, InVision Studio



Experience rather than observe.

With the amount of content and information being readily available today, it is hard to engage and immerse people in real time. The medium of Augmented Reality brings the value of convenience and the value of getting them to participate physically. Having people experience rather than observe may help them better retain and transform their overall understanding of any objective.

The Challenge

How can we drive and retain user engagement and collaborate with local businesses of Los Angeles?

The Solution

Incorporate gamification with Augmented Reality (AR). By exploring their surroundings and interacting with fellow players, users can challenge their social network and collect rewards to redeem at local businesses.


C&C Analysis – Interviews

Two worlds—virtual on top of real.

Augmented Reality brings an interactive element to the realm of reality.
It is still a new and challenging technology to grasp, so we wanted to start from the beginning—to understand its terminologies, to explore its current technological constraints, to study its exact impact on people.

Comparative & Competitive Analysis

What else is out there?

After thoroughly analyzing different comparisons, we found researching apps with strong storylines and rewards system the most insightful.

To understand AR, we compared different mobile applications that utilize AR with a camera phone.
To understand how storylines tie-in with AR, we compared different mobile games that utilize AR.
To understand collecting rewards, we compared different mobile applications that utilize GPS Tracking as a tool to find things.


Experience with Augmented Reality.

We conducted surveys to ask users what's their understanding of Augmented Reality (AR) and whether they have used any type of AR mobile apps.

Have you ever used a mobile AR app?

Total Responses: 41 (via Google Forms)

Factors in a game.

We then conducted a new series of survey questions to ask what exactly intrigues users to play a mobile AR game and keep them engaged throughout.

What is most important to you in a mobile augmented reality game?

Total Responses: 6 (via Google Forms)



— "[AR] facilitates exploration of my world."
— "I get to go outside and interact with my friends."
— "I like to be able to see where I am going and what I am going to get."


Affinity Mapping  Surveys  User Persona MVP

Reward people through gamification.

Many downloaded AR apps later, we had to unravel how to engage users, how to meet local businesses' needs, and most importantly, figure out how to incorporate Augmented Reality simple enough to explain and play.

People are looking to actively participate. Augmented Reality makes that possible.

Affinity Mapping

We sorted information from interviews we conducted to find trends in people's experiences with AR and the social games they play.

User Persona

Meet Millennial Mindy

Through our research, we discovered that people enjoy using a mobile platform to explore areas with their friends. In addition, people enjoy using their phones to help them navigate their way through experiences. We came up with Mindy, our primary persona.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Moscow Method

Based on our research and within our scope, we identified what features were going to be part of the MVP: some must-haves were a Google Maps interface, a direction indicator, a tutorial, and an inventory—also included were a thermometer indicator and alerts to get into AR Mode when near an object.

GPS Location

Track current location with moving character and "field of vision beam", calibrated to phone's GPS


Familiarize users with their surroundings and the game's overall layout


Inform and guide users from the beginning of how to play the game and what the rewards are


SketchingWireframes – Usability TestingPrototyping

Building the framework.

People's surroundings become part of the user interface.

One main problem with AR is that screens will all look different for each user. We decided to design with short and quick engagement, visual cues, and simply what is most comfortable for users.


A method to solve and find where objects are located in user’s physical position.
An element hidden in space within AR Mode.
A deal redeemable at any participating local businesses.
An achievement to collect and to check progress in the game.


Playing the game.

In this prototype, the user is prompted to log in or sign up for an account, agree to camera and location access, follow the tutorial, and play the game by figuring out clues and solving them to earn rewards.






Usability Testing – Reiterations

Journey Map

Driven by behavior and interaction.

Testing was a crucial part of our design process, and understanding the focus of a narrative and collecting experience allowed us to produce testing plans early and often.

Problems—on pause.

01) People were unclear about what they should find and what the components of the game meant.
02) Screens became wordy and overloaded with all sorts of information.
03) People didn’t always want to turn on or use their camera—some even expressed concerns about battery usage while on AR Mode.
04) There was not much guidance while walking and solving the clue.

Solutions—ready, set, go.


01) Clarify everything with a tutorial


02) Humanize and excite the experience with movement, gestures, and transitions

AR Mode Switch

03) Notify users that they are entering AR Mode and give complete control to turn off AR Mode


04) Indicate how close users are to the AR Object when a clue is solved


Next Steps

Reflect back.

We challenged ourselves to tailor a minimum viable product of a mobile game that brings into play a technology that's still in the cusp of human-computer interaction. Keeping it grounded with reality but making it still feel fun and natural were our goals but there's room to grow with the ideas we came up with.

Let them customize!

Player Levels:
Introduce ranks which can be leveled up by collecting a certain number of badges.

Rewards System:
Elevate rewards systems based on badge levels.

Character Customization:
Build an avatar and change to a custom face, body shape, clothing, and accessories.

Social Media Sharing:
Pique interest and increase potential new players, share things found and claimed from app to social media platforms.

Completed Perks:
Add an overview map of marked and completed perks.
Beam me up