Harry PottAR


HarryPottAR is an augmented reality app that brings the wizarding world of Harry Potter to the real world. It is an outcome of the Experimental TV Lab project studio at Georgia Tech and was highligted in an IEEE Spectrum article by Tekla Perry that you can read here.

The Team

I worked on the narrative, 3d assets, video and visual design of the app.


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Research Question

How do the following specific factors increase or decrease a user’s motivation to follow an interactive location-based story?

  • Timers

  • Audio

  • Interacting with virtual objects in the real world

  • Interacting with real objects in the virtual world

Competitive Analysis & Literature Review

After brainstorming different ideas for an AR app we decided on Harry PottAR. Transforming Georgia Tech into Hogwarts and having students go on adventures was something we could see appealing to a lot of students on campus. We started out by comparing existing apps like Ingress, Walking Dead, Pottermore etc. Pokemon GO hadn't been released yet but they did have a trailer. This helped us decide on the features to include in our application. We also did a literature review but focused this on just AR apps. One of the takeaways was location AR based apps need to provide some sort of satisfaction or reward the users for their effort of traveling to different locations.

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Narrative Storyboarding

App Prototypes

As we came up with prototypes, we realized that it wouldn't be feasible to complete the whole narrative in the timeframe we had. We prototyped the experience up to the point where the users sees the Hogwarts Express. I had to learn a lot of video editing for this project to overlay the images. We also had to find the right audio for background sounds, create a script for dobby and record the dobby audio.

Demo Video


We received feedback from industry professionals who were invited to see videos presented the eTV lab at a GVU research showcase that takes place every semester. We presented a poster, our demo video and also had users interact with a working prototype of Dobby that appears on your hand when you scan a QR code (the video is below).

Things that could be improved:

  1. Phones have such a narrow screen through which to view the wizarding world. Using a phone means you have to scan a lot of ground with it. Experimenting with devices like Hololens etc (eye wear) as using mobile occupies one hand + glass-wear provides peripheral vision.

  2. ​GT Environment doesn’t match the story (harry potter is more mystical and scary). Needs special effects and use smoke and other movie elements from Harry Potter for improved immersion
  3. Allow user input and a personalized story. For eg: Character creation (Slytherin would have a different story than Gryffindor)

  4. Make it a social experience. User wants to be able to talk to other “wizards” who are using the app.​

Things that work well:

  1. Using audio and time pressure to fill the disconnect between point A and B in existing location-based apps

  2. Some parts of the experience delighted users

    • Seeing the Hogwarts express

    • Seeing and hearing Dobby on Hand

    • Getting to stab Voldemort with a real object

  3. Potential for future applications of AR + Location based storytelling

    • ​Taking theme park experiences to another level

    • Applications to historic journalism or flash-back journalism

    • Apply different stories to different locations.  Stumble upon stories/experiences randomly around midtown


Designing for AR interactions

The primary interaction was pointing at objects or scanning an environment to get a clue vs just tapping on a screen on a normal phone. Prototyping the experience was also more challenging than a regular mobile app because we had incorporate 3d objects and video editing to make objects pop off the screen.

Immersion and motivation are key 

Motivation was so important in a locationn based AR app as it involves more effort from the users. We had to think of ways to do this and make them feel like they're part of a story. We needed to incorporate the use of audio to allow for immersion in the environment.