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AR Run is an augmented reality project. It combines mobile game technology and physical exercise to encourage people to stand up and move around even if they are indoors. Interaction with it is simple. The user should hold the phone or iPad, moving their body and looking around the room to find the virtual fish. This can be a way to allow the user to experience joy in running.

2018, Thesis project

How does Dynamic Media help people to engage the running community? 


UX Designer and engineer

Research, Interview, design, prototype

Interaction, Visual design & testing

December 2018

Indoor activity, mobile, transfer productive use of screen time, engagement


Why we always sitting?

1 “Corliss, Julie. “Too Much Sitting Linked to Heart Disease, Diabetes, Premature Death.” Harvard Health Blog, 22 Jan. 2015, heart-disease-diabetes-premature- death-201501227618.

According to Annals of Internal Medicine, “more than half of the average person’s waking hours are spent sitting: watching television, working at a computer, commuting, or doing other physically inactive pursuits.1 There are a lot of apps people can use on phones or computers that will produce a sound to alarm them. We have all had the experience of hearing the doorbell, hurriedly standing up, and running to open the door. In this process, an external stimulant motivates us to stand and run. The interaction here is passive as we hear the ringtone then stand up. I was looking to find an active way to encourage people to exercise.

I noticed that we all spend lots of time browsing and playing with our mobile phones. Smartphones for us are already becoming part of our bodies. While we go everywhere and do everything, we take our phones with us and hold them in our hands. Is there a way of making reasonable use of our phone time? I was inspired by an application in Apple Watch; when people are sitting for a long time, it will pop up a notification: “It is time to stand up!” I think notification is a method of reminding users to stand up and exercise. However, people do not like to stand, not only because they are lazy but also they feel bored when just standing there. How can I make someone’s standing experience fun and then motivate them to run around?  The solution should be simple and accessible to users. Furthermore, the solution should be suitable for both adults and kids.


Transforming people’s mobile time

I had several informal conversations with eighteen long-siting users, including designers, artists, engineers, and product managers who are often sitting in front of a computer every day.


They do not like the form of reminders, as sometimes they may interrupt the work process. But they think that they really need to stand up and walk around after sedentary time every day. I kept the idea of using people’s phone time but gave up the reminder form. But how could I create a good experience of standing and running? If Pokemon Go made people fascinated by outdoor walking and jogging, how could I make a similar fun collecting-game experience, as an indoor activity?

How can I take thirty seconds of people’s phone time and transform it into an active running experience?

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Idea of AR Run


Make it fun

The purpose of the first version was to test the basic game function. I used the pattern of the red circle to show how the AR worked. The circle located in the air. When the user

held the mobile phone and walked over, they felt that the circle was getting bigger and bigger until there was a feeling of passing through the circle.

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Learning process of AR technology

The red circle worked, users could see it through the mobile phone, and they walked toward it. When users looked around and saw something that wasn’t from the real world, they found it proving my hypothesis. We all know that fish can only be seen in the water, but with AR technology I took the fish into the air and brought them around us. I designed the virtual fish to use a unique element to attract the attention of the player. When fish swim in water, our eyes will follow the direction of the fish. If this works in real life, I hope that small virtual fish can lead us to “cruising” in the indoor environment. The virtual fish swim forward and the players run to follow them. (1)-min.gif


​Exhibition in Fresh Media 2019

From users action in the Fresh Media exhibition, I observed that the purpose of this game was fulfilled by users. Approximately 90% of users kept running and walking to catch virtual ish; under these circumstances, there were 70% of users replaying the game three times. Every time the user catches a fish, they will get a point. But user scores are not online. Nearly half of users asked me the same kind of questions: “How many fish can you catch? Am I the highest-scoring player? Even in an exercise game, people want to beat others, be the fastest, and have the highest score.


In the Fresh Media Show

After much testing, I used my concept to create the real thing. In the exhibition, Fresh Media, I found people really enjoyed the experience. They were immersed in this game. And we can see that kids really love it. 

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When this mom know how to play with it. She taught her kid to walk around in the gallery. When this boy know how to play with it, he can play by himself.

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People interacte with prototype Run Together in the Cyber Art Gallery

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People also sharing their happy experience to others.

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Introduction in the exhibition

How can we take 30 seconds of phone time and transform it into an active running experience? This project is combining mobile gaming and physical exercise to encourage people to stand up and move around even if they are indoors.

Interaction is simple. Move your body and look around the room with the iPad to find the ish. Try to run as close as you can to the ish to catch them. Run quick! You only have 30 seconds to catch them. Small tip: Be careful when playing.

Pieces of feedback

“I am Fishman!
- Professor Fish, DMI, Massart

“Mom, can I play one more time?” - Kid, 5 years old

“It is hard but it is so fun. I can’t stop.” -Visitor

What’s Next

In the process of watching the users play, I also found some parts in this project need to be improved in the next step. The biggest issue from users was that they needed a tutorial about how to catch virtual ish before they actually play. Almost 90% of users had no idea how to deal with it. I needed to tell and show them how to play every time. Even though I put a simple instruction on the bottom of the beginning interface, users did not see that, so they hit the yellow button “Start Game” directly on the interface. There were three users who told me after they played the game that if they had known the rule of playing they would have caught more virtual fish. I will add a tutorial part and a score list in the next step. And I learned that no matter the game or exercise, games are not only about design interface but also about design experience.

For the prototyping part, before I did the AR Run application, I only knew augmented reality technology by the popular game Pokemon Go. This game made me fixate on going outside and collecting Pokemon characters? I was wondering if I could use the same technology on my project and create the same experience to engage people. So I tried to learn new technology, to learn how to write an application using the Swift language. I think the AR technology can affect people’s daily life; it made exercise more accessible for people and motivated them to go outside with their mobile phones rather than needing to go to the gym. It may remove the need for physical gym equipment. However, I read the news that some people drive to play Pokemon Go and put themselves in a dangerous place; I don’t like this, so that’s why I set the game for a short time, which only allows them to play the game in a certain place. I also want AR Run to be accessible for both adults and kids, so families can play together.

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Emotional interface design for robot to communicate with kids in intuitive way

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