Virtual Reality (VR) is the latest buzzword in technology and consumer electronics. You'll find VR shining in all its immersive glory almost everywhere nowadays. Swisscom, as a major IT actor, did not want to join the bandwagon but rather be a driving force in the field and its many potential applications.

This is why we at Open Web Technology were commissioned to help their marketing department team explore new digital worlds and create the company's 2016 Xmas card using the latest VR technology.

Situation

Swisscom marketing department is always looking for innovative customers and this year's Christmas card project was definitely aimed at them. First they thought of creating a game where the player has to find a Santa Claus set in a Swiss panorama. To make it even cooler, they decided to do this with a VR game!

Creating a web-based virtual reality game playable on a mobile phone with a pair of Cardboard goggles was definitely exciting, but was it sensible at all? After taking up the challenge and making this reality, we can say it was!

Approach

Our mandate was twofold: assessing the proposition technical feasibility and developing a cloud-based state-of-the-art web platform accordingly.

Proof of Concept

Before answering our client about the possibilities offered by the JavaScript library A-Frame and its virtual reality engine, we wanted to put the framework to the test. After a couple of days we came up with a proof of concept that already covered pretty much all the use cases exposed by the game Swisscom's marketing team had in mind. During this brief patch we also made sure that going for a web-based game (by contrast with native mobile) was the best possible approach.

Thanks to this initial stage and a very performing team we were able to provide our client with rock-solid information about the toolset and its potential.

Development Phase

Once we were able to assess the project feasibility, we started creating the user stories needed to implement each and every part of the game, from visual design to cloud deployment.  The Proof of Concept proved so valuable that we decided to convert it into our first sprint and we immediately started to build both front and back-end in parallel. To do so we relied on a technology stack we are very comfortable with and which mainly consists of the ever hypeful AngularJS and the Java-based Spring Framework. 

We decided to follow the Continuous Delivery approach so our client, with whom we were lucky to collaborate very closely, could see our progress almost daily. The second benefit we reached doing so was the simplicity to test the game in real conditions, i.e. with proper devices connecting to the very production server.

Results

All in all we were able to deliver the full project scope in four languages in less than a month. The card and a pair of goggles were sent to more than 1,300 eager customers.

This was Swisscom's way of wishing them a VR-y Christmas!