As part of my course requirements for Knowledge, Media, and Learning (KMD 2003) at OISE/UT, my design partner (Sarah Zheng) and I created a prototype for an app called “Good Samaritan.” GoodSamaritan connects users with their immediate physical environment through an AR layer that allows them to see “invisible” areas of need (aka “opportunities”) within their community.

Upon registering as a GoodSamaritan, users complete a profile in which they specify their skills, abilities and interests.  Subsequently, the users’ AR layer is customized to depict “opportunities” for which they would be most helpful/capable.  Examples of “opportunity” categories may include arts, education, science & nature, social causes, directions, physical labour, pets & animals, transportation, and small chores.  Users may also form social connections by joining various teams, for which diverse skills and abilities are valued.  Settings within the app would also allow users to form ad-hoc teams by recruiting participants based on proximity (e.g. distance to an opportunity site).  Users could customize their notifications to alert them if they are near an opportunity or if they have been invited to participate in an opportunity.

Working either individually or as a member of a team, users earn “karma” for completing various opportunities.  “Karma” is the social currency of the game.  Users may keep their “karma” for the purposes of levelling-up in the game, or they may choose to spend their karma by creating opportunities for other GoodSamaritans in an area where assistance is required.  (Users/teams may register for verified accounts if they wish to create “opportunities” on behalf of an organization).  Alternatively, users may choose to convert their “karma” into GOODcoins, redeemable for rewards in the GOODcoins store.  It should be noted that users have greater karma-earning power when they complete opportunities as a team, rather than individually.  Similarly, when creating “opportunities,” individuals spend less of their own “karma” when working as a team rather than individually.

Elements of the GoodSamaritan design were inspired by the game Ingress—a location-based, augmented-reality mobile game—of which I was an avid player at the time.

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Future Directions:

  • User testing, cognitive interviews, workshops/training
  • Integration with wearables (e.g. glasses, watch that vibrates/glows different colours when passing by an “opportunity”)
  • Considerations around ‘gaming the system’ – e.g. establishing principles, standards, and protocols around the awarding of karma (i.e. so that friends don’t create frivolous opportunities simply to award each other karma)
  • Integration of social media and/or news-feeds surrounding an opportunity (e.g. twitter hashtags to follow progress)
  • Marketing & branding of the app


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