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Abstract

Populism poisons the minds of youngsters with fear and untruth. Teachers try to cure it by preaching history books to digital natives. We think teens need to experience education as an engaging experience, so together with school kids aged 14-18 we co-designed and are currently developing an interactive augmented reality escape room game to learn about fake news. Read, check facts, research, solve riddles and escape the fake.

Let’s escape the fake

In a not too distant future, humanity is living in a post-truth world. The spread of fake news and deep fake tools used in political campaigns, have created a broken, dystopian reality in which consumers cannot distinguish what is real from what is not. Artificial intelligence companies have gained power, influence and transaction the “truth” to the highest bidder. The consequences have been extreme: destinies and families have been ruined, elections hacked by extremist politicians, human rights have been reduced. You get a friend request on social media from your grand-daughter who is a reverse reality hacker from the future, asking you to help fix the present and stop this cascade of events.

EscapeFake is an immersive mixed reality experience which transforms every physical room in an escape room scenario in which users have to interact with a quantum reality hacker (AR avatar) from the future, find clues, solve riddles, in order to “escape the fake”. The blurring boundaries between real and virtual are key to our storyline. Our game is a mix of escape room mechanics, mixed reality and chatbot AI you can speak with (avatar).

Out of 500 international ideas EscapeFake won the Advocate Europe Award and additionally we won the Vienna Content Award for most creative project.

Thoughts on digital education

We are most interested in redefining education. Kids learn by asking questions and exploring rooms. Here we see a great potential combining AR with Communicative AI and Games.

Robert Praxmarer Co-Founder Polycular

Our vision is to transform every physical space into a learning experience. We believe learning needs to be a challenge. Common eLearning solutions however are about reading a text, watching a video and then clicking on some multiple-choice quizzes which to all our experience is not working. First tests with our game showed very lively discussions afterwards with the players as they really came out of an experience which transformed some of their thinking. This is where we are headed…

About us

Polycular is an award-winning, interactive design and game studio from Austria which pairs creativity and technological innovation to create experience spaces in the real and virtual world. Our track record goes back 23 years working with AR/VR technologies at the Ars Electronica Futurelab, later teaching and researching gaming and XR at Art University Linz and University of Applied Sciences Salzburg. We have a deep understanding of empathy, dramaturgy and storytelling. Alongside our work for clients, we develop self-driven projects rooted in our sense of social responsibility about the role of technology in shaping a future world. With EcoGotchi we produced an Augmented Reality Tamagotchi teaching kids sustainability. In 2016 we were selected to develop our startup further as a part of the Plug’nPlay accelerator in Sunnyvale, CA. We have produced works in the field of playful learning and mixed reality for companies such as Bayer, REWE, Lufthansa, Siemens, UEFA, PORR, DOKA and many more. For our work on using augmented reality for education we have been awarded numerous times (ReImagine Education, Netidea Award, Advocate Europe, Content Award Vienna, Green Start Award, Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award, Climate KIC, Climate Launchpad).

We have a qualified and diverse team of 12 experts who covers the whole experience design process from concept to implementation and user testing. Founder and CEO Robert Praxmarer is an artist/developer, former key researcher at Ars Electronica Futurelab, former head of AR & Computer Game Development department at University of Salzburg and director of CADET (Center for Digital Advances in Entertainment Technologies) and PELS (Pervasive Experience Lab Salzburg). CFO and Co-Founder Thomas Layer-Wagner has an art, interaction design – as well as an engineering background. Both forged a team of mixed talents such as 2D/3D Art, Game Design, Programming, Project Management, Creative Direction to make outstanding product and experiences.