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University of Auckland students launch app for Stress Less Week

University of Auckland students have created a digital treasure hunt for Stress Less Week, designed to engage students in an interactive game and offer a fun outlet prior to exams.

The technology used in the app-based game was developed by Shwoop, the startup founded by University of Auckland students. The app challenges students to unlock and solve riddles on the City Campus to find secret locations and discover rewards.

Stress Less week is held 7 to 11 October as thousands of students prepare to head into study break and exam period. So far more than 2,500 students have signed up to use the app.

Shwoop founder and computer science student at the University of Auckland, Jamie McDonald, says, “Fun is the ultimate antidote to stress. We're providing an experience that facilitates getting out and about connecting with peers, before it gets too close to exams and after the mid-semester wave of assignments.”

Shwoop is made up of five students and operates from the Business Schools Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). They are McDonald, Tim Finucane (Software Engineering), Hayden Moore (Computer Science), Russell Bloxwich (Computer Science), and Adrian Hoffmann (Commerce).

McDonald says Shwoop is passionate about using new technologies to turn cities into playgrounds, and has been able to create and experiment with new ideas in the CIEs Unleash Space, which gives staff and students free access to tools, technology and machinery to build new products.

At the space, the team has developed a portfolio of technologies, from holograms to face-recognition software and transparent glass screens, which they draw on to design interactive games.

McDonald has also connected with various New Zealand brands to seek ways to make customer interactions more meaningful and interactive, according to a statement.

“There are some really exciting ways you can use social media and interactive technology in urban spaces. The most well-known example is the Pokemon Go game, but there is so much more potential to take that technology to another level. We really believe in using technology to get people outside and exploring and connecting with other people face-to-face,” says McDonald.

“Using the campus for a big treasure hunt is a great way for us to test the waters before we put thousands of dollars into more commercial ventures, and scale-up the app to use in different situations,” he says.

To use the technology created by Schwoop requires opt-in permission from users, and the team says there is a lot of emphasis is put on protecting consumer data and privacy. The app is available for download at shwoop.co.nz. Players must have a valid University of Auckland email.

Prizes include free coffees and food from campus retailers, lime scooter and Ola credit and electronics from Noel Leeming.