The Geo-games are games played through mobile smart devices with GPS (Global Positioning System) sensors and require the user to visit/navigate real geographical locations. Although GPS-based games had already appeared in the middle of the previous decade and large companies such as Google recognized relatively early the new market that was being created (founding of Niantic to 2010), however for several years the audience of this market was quite limited, even in the case of Geocaching (7M users). The huge recent success of Pokemon GO (650M downloads) dispelled any doubts that existed about the potential that Geo-games could have.
Unfortunately, developing Geo-Games even using development environments like Unity can be described as anything but a simple process and requires the developer to have a background in Computer Science. The main reason is that development is usually done in general purpose programming languages (e.g. C#) that have increased capabilities and complexity. In this way, the range of potential Geo-graphics creators is limited. At the same time, a number of studies have demonstrated the value of the visual programming paradigm as a learning tool for primary school children.
Motivated by the above observations, within the GeoMake-It project the aim is to build a web platform where users with little or no programming knowledge can design and launch their own Geo-Game. In other words, the goal of GeoMake-It is to provide an easy-to-use environment and infrastructure for developing and running Geo-Games, not to produce Geo-Games per se (which will be done in the context of testing and evaluation of the platform). By expecting end-users to become builders of the Geo-games they wish and by providing tools for this purpose that can be managed even by people of low age groups (e.g. 10-14), the expectation is that GeoMake-It will be widely accepted.
The aim of the project is that at the end of the project there will be a system whose potential commercial appeal is to mobile device owners globally. Particular emphasis will be placed on its ease of use by lower age groups. In addition, although the main focus of the project is in the field of entertainment games, however we expect that the GeoMake-It platform can be useful in other fields e.g. serious games, tourism (visiting attractions via Geo-Game) etc. It is noted that at the end of the project (and earlier depending on the developments in the relevant market), the commercial exploitation of the platform will be pursued through a spin-off company to be set up by the project participants following a feasibility study.
Although there is work at the research level along similar lines to GeoMake-It, e.g. Tidy City, it concerns very limited versions of the objectives pursued by GeoMake-It. In particular, they usually refer to a single (relatively simplistic) game scenario, e.g., treasure hunting, and do not take special care to make the development environment friendly to lower age groups. In addition, they have not received significant commercial acceptance. The project will try to integrate existing research results on increasing the impact of Geo-games, e.g. integration of video, use of augmented reality, enhancing community culture, etc.
The University of Thessaly (UTH) was founded in 1984 and today consists of 18 departments. The University of Thessaly is among the 5 best Greek universities, while according to the National Documentation Centre it is one of the 10 Greek institutions that have achieved the largest Community funding to date in Horizon 2020. During the previous programming period (NSRF 2007-2013) and more specifically in the actions SYNERGY 2009, 2011 the University of Thessaly implemented 19 collaborative projects with enterprises, 7 of which as coordinator. The research part of the GoMake-It project will be implemented by the research team of the laboratory of the Laboratory of Telecommunication Systems, Networks and Integrated Services (TelSyNIS: Telecommunication Systems, Networks and Integrated Services) of the Department of Informatics with Applications in Biomedicine (TPEB) of PTH in collaboration with members of the VDCloudTec laboratory of the Department of Informatics and Telecommunications of PTH. The PT-TPEB welcomes about 160-180 undergraduate and at least 40 postgraduate students annually. In the academic year 2016-17, it was the 2nd highest admission rate in Greece. The TelSyNIS laboratory is research oriented in the disciplines: Wired and Wireless Networks, Security of Telecommunication and Information Systems, Internet Services, World Wide Web Information Systems, Distributed Systems, Multimedia, Mobile and Pervasive Computing, Social Network Analysis and Large Scale Data Analysis. Its members have experience from participation in both European projects (e.g. DEBUGIT/FP7, SOCIAL&SMART/FP7, POBICOS/FP7) and national projects, and publish in prestigious journals e.g.. IEEE TFS, IEEE TSC, IEEE TC, IEEE TCC etc.
SMARTS IKE was founded in 2013 to provide specialized ICT solutions, products and services of high innovation to private and public sector companies and organizations as well as consumers. Its shareholders and staff constitute a multidisciplinary team with a high complementarity of skills and breadth of expertise, while composing a strong workforce ranging from seasoned entrepreneurs with 30 years of experience in the ICT sector to young researchers and specialists. The company offers services and integrated solutions to both private companies and public institutions based mainly on products and systems developed in-house. A significant part of product design and development activities is devoted to the development of applications for smartphones with the main target market being that of ordinary consumers. At the same time, it cooperates with major IT companies and research institutions in Greece and abroad, such as Unisystems, ARMA International, LLC, Forum Virium Helsinki etc. The company is certified according to ISO 9001, 27001 and IQ NET 27001, and is a member of the General Commercial Register (G.M.I.). In accordance with the established ISO certificates and in the light of internal procedures, the company utilizes the PRINCE2 methodology, the most widely used project management standard at international level. In addition, and in terms of optimal, fast and efficient software development, the flexible Scrum software development methodology has been adopted. The company has achieved particularly high scores in the IMP3rove innovation potential assessment process. The business and research areas in which the company operates are Gaming, Tourism and Leisure, Health and Safety, Transportation Systems, Energy and Environment and Public Sector. In these sectors, the company has developed and marketed a range of solutions, examples of which include: automatic alert management systems (Smart Safe&Sound), social networking platforms and platforms to enhance interaction between organisations and the general public (PoliPragmon).
The GeoMake-It project partnership consists of 2 partners, a laboratory of the PT-TPEB and a company, with skills and knowledge in different fields. Each of the partners has been selected for a specific purpose. More specifically, the PT-TelSyNIS laboratory has experience relevant to the implementation of interactive applications, languages and systems. SMARTS has considerable experience in software integration and in the transformation of research results into a final product. Finally, all partners have considerable experience in national and European projects.