Lockdown inspires kids to develop AR-enabled app

KRAKEN. Five kids have developed an idea for an app that can be paired with a wearable device. The Kids Routine App for Kinetic Energy or KRAKEN aims to encourage kids to be physically fit, and have a feel that they do activities with their peers amid the mobility restrictions. (Photo courtesy of Globe)

MANILA – Five kids aged 12 years to 13 years have developed an idea for an application (app) they hope will  encourage others to be physically active while staying at home during the pandemic and have a feel that they do activities with their peers.

They called the app Kids Routine App for Kinetic Energy or KRAKEN, which is paired with a wearable device that uses augmented reality (AR), Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud, and 5G (fifth-generation wireless technology).

The kids, Grant Wong, Mona Obedoza, Aleana Beato, Sire Garcia, and Owen Gocheco, called themselves “Team Vortex Runners” and joined Globe’s 5G Hackathon recently.

“Before the pandemic, we often met up to discuss projects, build and test Lego EV3 robots, and run around and play together. We imagined KRAKEN as a way to simulate these face-to-face playing experiences,” the team shared.

Brian Co, 5G Hackathon program head, confirmed that Team Vortex Runners was the youngest group to join their competition. The team made it to the top 30 and was given the opportunity to present their idea during the Demo Day on September 21.

“We’re very glad to have worked with them and are looking forward to how they will grow KRAKEN’s capabilities in the future,” he said, adding that the members met one another in several competitions and workshops before working together on KRAKEN for the 5G Hackathon.

“Due to the lockdown here in the Philippines, our team hasn’t been able to meet face to face for the past year. Through our project, we hope to create a way for kids all over the world to experience the thrill of playing with their friends despite various constraints, such as lockdowns, disabilities and health conditions, and differences in location,” the team shared.

KRAKEN, they said, would help encourage kids to be active through various games that would make them exercise various parts of the body. It would also allow kids to communicate with each other, and others to interact with friends worldwide  in real-time.

They said that while other games use AR to encourage movements, such as Pokemon Go and Beat Saber, their creation allows a multiplayer option, allowing players to see one another using AR.

“Online video games do exist but only a few encourage users to get up and move, and instead keep them stationary,” they noted.

They also claimed KRAKEN will be affordable compared to fitness games available on most gaming consoles, or the ones that require users to purchase bulky equipment.

“(KRAKEN also) includes features that will allow kids with disabilities to enjoy the game as well, (because of the) wearable device that can be worn on the arm, leg, or neck to track the movement of the body part,” they added.

The team, meanwhile, emphasized how important 5G is to KRAKEN. With 5G technology, sensor data can be sent faster between the users’ devices, and AR models can load more quickly, allowing for a smoother, more immersive playing experience with minimal lag.

Even if KRAKEN could still function using 4G technology, they said 5G is important in helping the app achieve its goal of replicating real-time, face-to-face playing experiences in a virtual environment.

“By introducing incredibly fast network speeds and increased geolocation accuracy, the 5G of mobile networks opens up a whole new world of possibilities, increasing the quality of online games, particularly those that make use of detailed graphics,” they said.

The team noted that they learned a lot about business and technology during the 5G Hackathon and are thus grateful for the opportunity to present their project. “The Globe team was very supportive of us — mentoring us, answering our questions. We are sincerely thankful for their help,” they added.