United Kingdom – August 24, 2022 – SunflowAR is an immersive web-based augmented reality (WebAR) experience developed with the aim to cut through news fatigue about the war in Ukraine, raise awareness about increased humanitarian needs in the region and secure donations to help Ukrainian civilians.
SunflowAR is a pro-bono project created by Musemio, a UK-based startup with Ukrainian founders. The project has attracted a consortium of partners including the world’s leading AR platform Zappar, and supporters from around the world. Co-creators include three-times BAFTA-nominated Delyth Thomas, and award-winning immersive playwright Robert Morgan.
The experience follows a little girl called Sonyashnyk (meaning sunflower in Ukrainian), who appears in users’ homes using the power of smartphones and augmented reality. She invites users to see symbolic representations of Ukraine, including a vast and blooming sunflower field overtaken by the war. At the end of the experience, users are encouraged to donate to UNITED24, the main venue for collecting charitable donations in support of Ukraine.
The experience was developed in response to the decrease in humanitarian aid arriving in Ukraine. Data from the Office of the President of Ukraine shows that international aid arriving in the country is slowing, falling by 79% from March 4 to August 16. Declining interest in the war is also a contributing factor. Data from Google Trends shows that in the last three months there were more searches for the UEFA European Championships than for the war in Ukraine. With a harsh and extremely cold winter of subzero temperatures expected, humanitarian resources are needed now to prevent this winter from becoming the next life-threatening challenge for civilians.
The team behind the project lives through the chaos caused by the invasion. Olga Kravchenko, a Ukrainian national and founder of Musemio, is based in the UK and spent many sleepless weeks trying to get her mother and grandmother out of Ukraine while the Russian troops were storming the outskirts of the capital
“By mid-April, I started hearing people in the UK saying they couldn’t watch the news about Ukraine anymore so they would just switch it off, and I knew that aid reaching Ukraine will start slowing down. With winter coming and temperatures dropping sometimes to -20 Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), I fear for Ukrainians with no supplies. If during the first few weeks, we couldn’t find trucks and drivers quick enough to deliver donations, today these trucks arrive almost empty”.
Oleksandr Ivanytskiy, CTO of Musemio, combined his work at the company with daily patrols of his neighbourhood in Kyiv:
“Our team couldn’t leave the country when the war erupted. Team meetings were surreal as it was all about how close the missile hit to our parent’s house, or how many hours we had to spend in the bomb shelters. Constant sirens and military manoeuvres interrupted our work calls, but we found ways around it”
Max Dawes, COO at Zappar also commented:
“The team at Musemio have done a fantastic job of bringing the heartbreaking realities of the war in Ukraine to homes across the world through AR. It’s incredibly moving and we really hope it has the desired effect of increasing awareness and donations at this key moment”
The SunflowAR experience is accessible on smartphones via this link: https://webxr.run/lPmJdvGGP9m9d or scan the QR code below.
Musemio is a digital destination for children to enjoy and understand culture by allowing them to interact with cultural journeys in a mobile 3D and VR environment where they can play and join quests while learning. The immersive platform of Musemio integrates immersive content from partners from around the world to create the experience that children enjoy the most: interactive games. Musemio has an award-winning team including recognition from Google Female Residency Program, Fareena Baig Social Impact Award, UCL Most Promising Startup 2019, UCL Educate Ed-Ward for Educational Research, Tech Nation Rising Stars Regional Winner (South East), Forbes 30 under 30 2021 and other.
About the founder, Olga Kravchenko
Olga Kravchenko has been very vocal about the turmoil her country is going through since the war started. Since her LinkedIn post about the war went viral and was covered by Forbes, Fortune thousands of people have been offering their help since then. Olga’s team helped to direct people to the right sources in the first few weeks of war – whether it was offering accommodation to Ukrainian refugees, providing trustworthy links for donations or organising humanitarian aid trips with the support of local NGOs and individuals.
UNITED24 (https://u24.gov.ua) was launched by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy as the main venue for collecting charitable donations in support of Ukraine. Funds will be transferred to the official accounts of the National Bank of Ukraine and allocated by assigned ministries to cover the most pressing needs. Funds from SunflowAR will be donated specifically to the Ministry of Healthcare and the Ministry of Infrastructure to help civilians who have been affected by the war.
Zappar is the world’s leading augmented reality platform and creative studio for mobile and web apps. Zappar’s award-winning self-serve tools and creative consultancy, enable brands, agencies and license partners across the world to deploy innovative, customizable and market-leading AR solutions to the mobile web and native apps. Partners include Coca-Cola, Nestle, PwC, 7-Eleven, Puma, Rovio, Kelloggs, Fanta, Walmart, and Unilever among others.
Sean Earley is the Executive Editor of AR/VR Magazine & co-founder of RobotSpaceship Podcast Network. He is the Director of New Biz Development and Publishing at KEMWEB, a musician, producer & consultant. He loves guitars, VR and coffee.