Dayton, OH-based design studio Real Art Design Group recently had the brief to give their client Welcome to College, a web startup, a real-life identity. The result is MARV, "an RV that is not only the smartest one around, but also has a personality as big as the RV itself."MARV, an acronym for Mobile Automated Research Vehicle, was designed to be a new and engaging way for students and parents to begin learning about colleges. Real Art created MARV to both draw in users and gather information about the colleges. By using his rear windshield that Real Art converted into an interactive screen, MARV was able to display games, videos and music while asking vital questions about the schools he visited.
"We needed MARV to get out and get in front of the schools and bring them an experience like they've never seen before," said Chris Wire, owner of Real Art Design Group.
Real Art began to build MARV by gutting and stripping a 1973 GMC RV. The exterior was repainted with bright, retro colors and Welcome to College branding. Next, the more out of the ordinary features were added, including solar panels, confetti cannons, fog machines, light show capabilities, prize dispenser, rear airbags that allow him to dance, and the programming for MARV's conversations.
Where the Wilson Brothers' "Mobile Cycling Club" for Rapha is intended to be a bespoke space for a community of sport enthusiasts, MARV is more squarely focused on user experience and bringing interactive technology to the physical world:MARV is more than just a moving collection of party tricks—he is programmed with a unique personality. Combining the X-Box Kinect, Flash and Arduino technology with a database of cues and responses, Real Art gave MARV the ability to read movements and engage with each user differently, based on their individual interactions with him.
"It was really cool seeing his personality shine through, and it seemed like people were really engaged by what he was saying and what he was doing," said Adam Haroff, designer at Real Art. "MARV is a great example of what we can do and how we do it."
MARV is the Real Art Design Group's second machine project, following last holiday season's Santa Claw.