Roxy the Ranger: The story behind the world’s first AR chatbot in a visitor attraction

SEA LIFE Junior Ranger AR Poster
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"Bij Arcade draait alles om het leggen van betekenisvolle verbindingen tussen mensen en plaatsen"

It starts with strategy: Roxy was created for the London Aquarium by Arcade, to amplify SEA LIFE’s ‘Amazing Discovery’ essence, which is all about fun, interactive learning.

Augmented reality is de perfecte technologie voor een uitdaging als deze, omdat het een uniek vermogen heeft om tot de verbeelding te spreken, vooral als het spaarzaam in plaats van hardnekkig wordt gebruikt. Het toont ons werelden, plaatsen, objecten - of, in dit geval, karakters - die voor het blote oog verborgen zijn, maar zelfs als het apparaat verdwijnt en Roxy uit het zicht verdwijnt, blijft ze in onze verbeelding volharden. We kunnen haar misschien niet zien, maar we weten dat ze in de buurt is. Als gevolg hiervan wordt onze relatie met het aquarium en de wezens binnenin getransformeerd en radicaal verdiept.

“It’s important that AR is used to enhance experiences, not replace them”

Roxy is beschikbaar via een gratis app en helpt SEA LIFE-bezoekers, vooral gezinnen met kinderen van 4-10 jaar, om meer te begrijpen over de wezens die ze zien door ze te entertainen, te onderwijzen en te belonen door middel van een reeks boeiende uitdagingen. Kinderen kunnen met Roxy chatten en haar verschillende vaartuigen besturen (inclusief een straalachtige onderzeeër en vliegmachine), en worden aangemoedigd om hun volwassenen te ondervragen over de feiten die ze gaandeweg hebben geleerd. Roxy beloont ze met Ranger-kaarten en aan het einde van de ervaring worden ze volwaardige Junior Rangers!

Critically, the AR experience is designed to amplify the connection between visitors and the aquarium. In between challenges, visitors are encouraged to explore the space without Roxy’s help, creating a virtuous circle of engagement between the physical experience and the digital one.

“It is was really important to have a character, so there was something in the space for kids to see and interact with”

Roxy speelt de rol van een SEA LIFE-curator of aquariaan, en was ingewikkeld ontworpen om zo geloofwaardig mogelijk te zijn, terwijl hij ook een schattig, geanimeerd karakter omarmde om jonge bezoekers aan te spreken. Het was belangrijk om haar het gevoel te geven dat ze dynamisch betrokken was bij de wereld van het aquarium, waar haar voertuigen binnenkomen - waardoor kinderen met haar mee de tanks in konden gaan en een gevoel van gedeelde ontdekking kregen.

"Het verhoogde het niveau van betrokkenheid, het verhoogde het niveau van plezier, het verhoogde de mate van interactiviteit"

 De impact van de ervaring, zoals gevalideerd door twee onafhankelijke onderzoeken, was fenomenaal. Vanuit een zakelijk perspectief werd ‘verblijftijd’ in het begin als een belangrijke maatstaf beschouwd, met als doel deze met 10% te verhogen; Uit onderzoeken bleek dat bezoekers die de app gebruikten gemiddeld 25% langer in het aquarium doorbrachten dan bezoekers zonder, met dramatisch hogere tevredenheidsscores en toegenomen 'waar voor hun geld' gevoel tijdens hun SEA LIFE-ervaring.

Net zo belangrijk, zo niet meer, uitten zowel kinderen als ouders hun opwinding en vreugde over hun interacties met Roxy. Vooral ouders waardeerden het educatieve voordeel en waardeerden de manier waarop hun kinderen de tijd namen om met Roxy en de zeedieren zelf om te gaan. 

"Werken met Arcade was ongelooflijk. Ze zijn goed bereikbaar, zo deskundig, zo meegaand, zo leuk om mee te werken. Ik zou op ieder project, elke dag en overal weer met ze samenwerken." – Rita Marcal, Global Senior Brand Manager, SEA LIFE.

Meet Tom Youel, Arcade’s new Senior Developer!

Tom Youel

Tom holds a degree in Games Design from the London College of Communication, and is a published independent games designer and developer. Before joining Arcade in the same capacity, he was a Senior AR Developer at AR content creation tool developer and agency Zappar for four years.

We thought we’d get to know him a bit better, and learned that we’d better keep him away from the fireworks on Bonfire Night…

Hi Tom, welcome to Arcade!


What are you most proud of in your working life so far?

A game I built during university in my second year called Kaleidoscope Runner. It was designed as an ultra-casual game – tap to jump is the only interaction – with escalating, mind-bending challenges. We only produced a prototype, but it remains one of my favourite pieces so far for simplicity and gradual challenge.

What are you most looking forward to with Arcade?

I’m looking forward to joining a creatively ambitious group, who are looking to push the boundaries of what AR is really capable of in physical spaces – which is, quite literally, an underdeveloped space in the industry.

“AR has science-fiction level possibilities”

What excites you most about immersive technology?

It has potential to be an art form, and it also has the potential to be incredibly useful. As the jump from board games to video games opened up the potential to create and render entire worlds powered by the computer’s processing power, AR has the power to do similar. It has science fiction-level possibilities.

What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

I’m big on podcasts, and I like the gym for high intensity exercise – it makes a good counter-balance to programming, to go and do something physically taxing.

What music do you listen to?

I’ve got a broad taste, though I’ll listen to dance music when working – usually something high-tempo like drum and bass, or perhaps house.

Anything else we should know / you’re prepared to admit to?!

I got hit by a firework when I was about 6 years old. Thankfully, it only singed my eyebrows. Hopefully it didn’t change much! [That explains a few things – Ed]

Thanks Tom, looking forward to working with you!

Kaleidoscope Runner
Kaleidoscope Runner: Mind-bending

Camden Alive partners with Arcade

Camden Alive Promo

We are incredibly proud to announce that the London Borough of Camden has partnered with Arcade on their hugely exciting Camden Alive project.

Camden Alive is an arts and culture platform that celebrates the history and diversity of this famous London borough, bringing to life the stories of its residents with the help of a variety of artists and performers. Arcade has been tasked with creating the Camden People’s Museum, a digital space which will be home to a series of immersive installations that can be experienced in augmented reality at specific locations across the borough or remotely, by residents and visitors alike.

The Camden People’s Museum will challenge preconceptions of what a museum is – it will have no walls, no entry fees, and it will exist entirely in the world around residents and visitors.

Jon Meggitt, CEO and Co-Founder of Arcade, said: “We could not be more thrilled to partner with Camden Council on this pioneering arts and culture project. Arcade is all about building connections between people and places using augmented reality, so the opportunity to immerse residents and visitors alike in the rich stories and unique environments of this iconic borough is a vision that’s very close to our hearts.

“Working alongside the Camden Alive team, the commissioned artists and local residents, we are delighted to be playing our part in creating something truly remarkable that can be enjoyed by all for many years to come.”

We love a good archive… getting stuck in with artists Boris, Brown and Steffi at the Camden Archives

The full press release can be read here:

Meet Kassi Koufaki, Arcade’s new Head of Production

Kassi Koufaki

Kassi Koufaki is Arcade’s new Head of Production. She holds a degree in Visual & Special Effects from the National Film School and an MA in Applied Imagination from Central St Martins. Before joining us she was Creative Producer & Head of Innovation for visual storytelling studio Nucco Brain and as a VR Producer & Head of Post Production for the award winning interactive production studio UNIT9.

We wanted to get to know her a bit better, and discovered her love for teamwork, innovation, “ridiculous audio tours”, jazz drumming and, er, power metal.

Welcome to Arcade Kassi!

Thanks, I’m really excited to be here.

“We tackled some of the most insane challenges”

What are you most proud of in your working life so far?

It has to be the people. When working with immersive tech there are so many ‘unknown’ factors in the mix and risks can be high, but I’ve been very lucky to have worked alongside fantastic artists and I am super proud of the evolution of all of my teams – how gracefully we tackled some of the most insane challenges together, how we innovated and took in new talent. I have certainly lived through a few ‘make or break’ moments in my Production life and I can say that good team spirit makes all the difference!

What are you most looking forward to with Arcade?

I am looking forward to joining a unique group of individuals that are as excited as I am about the future of immersive tech. I am hoping to innovate, learn more about what AR has to offer and to create experiences that people will remember for the years to come.

“I feel like a modern day explorer”

What excites you most about immersive technology?

The sense of discovery. I feel like a modern day explorer working with new technologies at their early stages, figuring them out, understanding their capacity and using them to tell stories in incredible new ways.

What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

I am all about interesting stories, a good cup of coffee and curious facts. I love watching films, TV shows, reading books, magazines or getting to know new people. Every month I make a point of picking up a magazine I’ve never read before and I am one of those annoying people that will ask for that ridiculous audio tour device in museums. 

What music do you listen to?

That’s a tough one….It really depends on my mood, place or time of day? For example… Britpop is great to get you started in the morning, but when you have a critical delivery after a long day nothing works like power metal!

Anything else we should know / you’re prepared to admit to?!

Recently I started learning how to play the drums. I am absolutely terrible at it but I live for the day I could emulate Miles Teller in ‘Whiplash’.

Thanks for your time Miles Kassi, welcome again and good luck!

Thanks! I can’t wait to get started.

Get in touch with Kassi at

Arcade proud to be founding members of the Open AR Cloud

Open AR Cloud Logo

Following Ori Inbar’s announcement of the Open AR Cloud during AWE Europe 2018, Arcade was privileged to be part of the first working group later that day.

We are fully supportive of the group’s shared mission to drive the development of open and interoperable AR Cloud technology, data, and standards to connect the physical and digital worlds for the benefit of all. We believe AR cloud technology will profoundly change the way we see and interact with each other and our physical surroundings. We are dedicated to creating standards, guidelines, tools, and data required to build a better world. We know that, above all, we must protect and preserve our individual and collective freedoms, privacy, dignity, and opportunity … for one and all.

NPL & Arcade Win Explorers Award to Develop AR App

NPL Logo

The National Physical Laboratory and Arcade, working in collaboration, have won an NPL Explorer’s Award for their Digital Image Correlation Project.

The team is developing a prototype augmented reality app that enables users to leverage the power and functionality of NPL’s Digital Image Correlation algorithms to accurately track changes in their environment.

Digital Image Correlation is a non-contact technique that uses algorithms to compare two images; acting as an advanced ‘spot the difference’ tool, to automatically record changes. The technology is already being employed by industry to monitor infrastructure wear, predict maintenance needs and provide quality control but it shows promise in many other applications, such as healthcare monitoring and aiding insurance claims.

This project aims to demonstrate proof of concept for delivering the technology in a widely accessible app format, and will employ intelligent and user-centric design.

ARt Field Test

AR Painting in Marble Hill Park
Our latest field test continues to explore the geolocation of AR content for improved visitor experience.
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