Dunedin boy hits jackpot with app

Taisei O’Sullivan Naito (11), opens the Dunedin trails app. Photo: Christine O'Connor
Taisei O’Sullivan Naito (11), opens the Dunedin trails app. Photo: Christine O'Connor
A Dunedin schoolboy has hit the jackpot with an app he created which is now being used by some of the world’s leading technology experts.

Taisei O’Sullivan Naito (11), presented his augmented reality treasure hunt of Dunedin to the  Algim (Association of Local Government Information Management) web and digital and customer experience conference in the Dunedin Town Hall on Sunday.

Delegates included the United States Government emerging citizen technology programme leader Justin Herman and representatives from Google.

Taisei said he was inspired to make the treasure hunt game to promote Dunedin to visitors.

"I think coding was always something that interested me and we have homestay students who are interested and want to explore Dunedin.

"That got me thinking, ‘Hey there are not many free tours but they could use an app’."

After working on his idea at the Hatch children’s kick-start technology programme,  Taisei’s teacher at Balmacewen Intermediate told Dunedin City Council staff who were instantly keen to hear more about his plan.

"I was very excited when I heard they were interested. It felt a bit unreal really."

He was  pleased his idea came to fruition because many people had "little projects" that got no recognition.

In the past month, he had worked with the support of family and teachers to craft the app using the game-creating app Tale Blazer.

About 200 people attending the conference would have access  to the game on their phones, which involved them visiting well-known sites around Dunedin.

"There is a map of around the Octagon area with icons and when people get near the icons information pops up and questions, like ‘How many windows are on the front of St Paul’s?’."

The questions were to encourage visitors to look at Dunedin’s architecture, Taisei said.

Conference-goers completing the treasure hunt would also pick up tokens from people at various locations including the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, using the code sentence "we love Otepoti".

He received "lots of amazing feedback" after speaking at the conference.

"That was an amazing experience that is probably going to change my life."

Next, he hoped to create a similar game but on a larger scale with the hope of promoting businesses, he said.

margot.taylor@odt.co.nz

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