To slow the spread of COVID-19, governments all around the world have locked down public institutions and entertainment facilities. Many people work and study from home, unable to go to gym, cinema, bars or clubs. The lockdown disrupts our normal social activities, while dating and making new connections becomes remarkably hard. It negatively affects mental health, as we start feeling isolated and lonely. The available dating apps and online platforms for video calls don't fully resolve the awkwardness and discomfort, when people have to show their private living space and talk to someone they barely know. Even worse if someone is unsure how to start the conversation and get to know each other.
OpenBar is a virtual bar, where people can meet, make new friends, or even find the love of their life. It is a familiar and cozy environment that encourages casual conversations in real-time. You can join different tables and talk with others on common topics of interest ("hangout" mode), or go on a date (“dating" mode). Once you join a table, you enter a video chat, and your background is changed to the background of the virtual bar. In “hangout” mode, you can also play simple games with the others, such as cards, chess, or a pub quiz. We introduce “ice-breaker” features, for example, every few minutes a question pops up for the participants to discuss something new about the topic, or switch the topic. If you like someone, you can always switch to a “dating” video call at another table. It is possible to make your chats private or stay open for others to join. Like in a real bar, you can go from table to table, talking and playing, or speed-dating. The most important thing is to keep in touch with all the nice people you have met! The first version of OpenBar is for locals in Copenhagen, but it will be situated in a global virtual city, where any country can open their local places, as well as multinational clubs.
What we have done
Over this weekend, we went through the initial ideation process and developed the concept of the solution, running short interviews with the target audience for validation. We have created a mockup 360° panorama of the bar with basic functions and interactions. We have a roadmap for the next features (blending the user background with the bar environment, adding games, private chats, security, etc.) and a draft of the business model.
Impact on the crisis
Dating and meeting new people is an imporant activity that has a substantial impact on social dynamics and relationships during the crisis and beyond. OpenBar helps to sustain the pace and growth of social interactions, while reducing the discomfort of socializing at a distance. On our platform, people can make new friends, flirt, play games, discuss and exchange ideas. Stay close to each other and grow the community!
Accomplishments that we are proud of
We learned how human conversations can be moved online in the times of lockdown and social distancing, with the help of the latest AR technologies that create naturalistic and pleasant virtual environments.
What's next for Open Bar
For the project to go on, the website needs to be built in a 360° environment with the basic features. Then, it will be launched for the Danish population. We have already got positive feedback from our target group, so this solution has the potential for wide acceptance.
Even when the crisis is over, OpenBar remains a place to meet like-minded people with shared interests. Especially those who rarely leave their houses due to physical disabilities or depressive disorders. What if the next epidemic is just around the corner? We must secure our social activities for such times.
Try It out
3dvista, adobe-illustrator, adobesuite, augmented-reality, flask, photoshop, python