, senior art directorTony Marin
, creative directorsJohn Godsey
, executive creative directorAllison Pierce
, group creative directorDebbi Vandeven
, chief creative officerRyan Doll
, developersAdam Jones
, mobile technology directorsChuck Brandt
, technical leadThe Wade Brothers
, directorTyler Smith
, executive agency producerScott Stone
, integrated producerMaria Civitate
, project managersRW2 Productions
, production companyVML
, project design and development/ad agencyUnion Station Kansas City
“An elegant and appropriate use of augmented reality—and the interface gracefully presents and serves its content.” —juror Gabe Kean
“All too often, augmented reality apps help you see things you could see another way. But this experience lets you see things you can only experience by going back in time and with a mobile device.” —juror Mark Renshaw
Overview: Kansas City’s Union Station was approaching its 100th anniversary. To remind citizens why it was worth celebrating, digital marketing and advertising agency VML filmed reenactments of the station’s eleven biggest events for an augmented reality app that is housed in a now-permanent exhibit in Union Station. Residents of Kansas City and tourists can bring history to life—snapping a selfie with President Harry S Truman or taking a photo while helping Stationmaster C.C. Clancy wrestle a runaway bull—in the exact spot it took place in one of America’s most historic buildings.
•The project took more than six months to produce.
•The stories were produced and directed by the Wade Brothers; all creative aspects, technical aspects and visual effects were done by VML.
•The back-end technology includes Objective-C on iOS and Java on Android. VML partnered with Gimbal/Qualcomm for the beacon platform, with Moblico for analytics and push notifications, and with Metaio for the augmented reality engine.
Comments by Chuck Brandt, Joshua Eithun and Tony Marin:
Did you meet with any out-of-the-ordinary obstacles during development? “We wanted the exhibit to be as authentic as possible, so every detail had to be correct. That meant tracking down time-period-specific uniforms and outfits—even the exact getaway car used in the Kansas City mob massacre. There were also a number of technological challenges, such as scaling the actors to a believable size across mobile devices. And, because the core feature of the app relies on architecture recognition, members of the creative, tech and visual effects team had to spend a lot of time on site at Union Station.”
What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “Creating a user experience around augmented reality for an audience with little to no experience interacting with augmented reality. A good portion of the daily traffic to Union Station is an older generation with minimal technology experience. Developing a system for that type of audience with eleven unique augmented reality experiences was no easy task. As a result, we were very iterative after launch, observing and interviewing users and making tweaks accordingly.”
What was the thinking behind the navigational structure? “When approaching the navigation, we knew we wanted to encourage visitors to explore the station and its history, so we intentionally kept the navigation light and flexible. Our main navigation device is the map of the station on the home screen. We worked with Google to map the building, and we placed custom markers at each of the eleven stories. In addition, as users tour the station, beacons notify them when they are near a story for a more discoverable experience.”