"Making excellent use of the gyroscope, this app creates a unique virtual experience right in your hands for travel destinations that may never be seen in person." —juror Adrian Belina
"Immersive visualizations that make you feel you like you've traveled the globe—without ever leaving your living room." —juror Jill Nussbaum
Overview: The Tour Wrist technology allows people to go inside potential homes, distant temples, new cars and relive memories anytime—from anywhere. Tour Wrist is a mobile and Web–based platform that allows businesses and consumers to create, share and view immersive, 360-degree tours. The ecosystem is comprised of a suite of products and services that surround a core application called Tour Wrist Explorer, a free app that turns devices into portals, so that as an iPhone/iPad/iPod is pointed in any direction, it acts as a window. It's a combination of an intuitive user experience, a degree of entertainment and a well–structured business model that provides a new type of sustainable, digital dialog—location sharing.
• The viewing experience is achieved by combining magnetometer, accelerometer and, when available, gyroscope readings to track movement along a virtual sphere that surrounds each user's head, enabling views of loaded virtual tours as the device is moved.
• This entirely new medium and method of interaction has an air of familiarity because every component (for each of three screen formats) was built from scratch. The iOS apps are built using Xcode and the iPhone SDK with most non–image content handled through Heroku and the tours through Amazon S3.
• Without an ounce of advertising Tour Wrist Explorer was downloaded over 20,000 times in the first few weeks and shortly after reached the Top 30 list for free Entertainment iPad apps.
Comments by Charles Armstrong:
How did this project compare with others you've worked on in the past? "We placed a tall order for ourselves. To be successful, it was imperative that we produce a robust, scalable, platform that properly incentivized three user groups: businesses, photographers and consumers. Doing so meant developing a suite of tightly integrated products, all in concert, all without an existing model to follow and without external funding. In our first, bootstrapped year, it was difficult to build the necessary momentum while facing a constantly-evolving mobile market and a business plan that changed hourly. Having laid the right groundwork though, our second year became much easier as we focused on our all–out sprint to the starting line."
Was it difficult attracting your audience? "Our success has been predicated on a warm reception from all three user groups. Developing a supply and demand chain that worked on all fronts was not an easy task. In the end however, the solution was simple: provide as much value as possible, allow for easy commerce and make our participation in the market as transparent as possible." What was the most challenging aspect of the project? "Our main app, Explorer, is a behemoth by app standards. The biggest challenge we've faced is providing a screen–independent experience that operates smoothly across grossly different mobile devices. Whereas most apps can be expanded indefinitely, we very quickly hit the ceiling of what current devices could handle. This presented an interesting challenge: how to juggle a top-notch experience, powerful functionality and a minimal memory footprint."