Solving real world problems with digital tools was the goal of the exercise for a few dozen Cowboys and Cowgirls who participated in the inaugural Virtual and Augmented Reality Hackathon on the Oklahoma State University-Stillwater campus Friday.

The event, which is hosted at the Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising’s Mixed Reality Lab – where research into augmented reality, virtual reality and digital prototyping takes place – continues Saturday until the five teams made up of four or five members present their pitch in the form of a short video.

The multidisciplinary teams include mainly OSU students with majors ranging from business and graphic design to political science and engineering along with one staff member and one professor.

“We are all interested in seeing how these teams work together because that is how the real world works,” said Tilanka Chandrasekera, assistant professor in the Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising.

But before they got going, the teams heard from keynote speaker Andrew Couch, CEO of the augmented reality company Candy Lab, who spoke about cryptocurrency and how to monetize it in the augmented and virtual reality platforms.

The teams were asked to “develop a solution using AR (augmented reality) or VR (virtual reality) to train individuals working at a retail store on retail basics such as identifying mistakes on shelves (wrong item placement, out of stock, theft, etc.).”

Chandrasekera said the problem was presented by Walmart, which is one of the sponsors of the event.

The two or three minute final video will be judged on use of technology, creativeness/innovativeness of solution, marketability of the solution, user experience, technical merit, impact/potential and artwork.

The winning teams will be announced Saturday night.

Many professors around campus are interested in the data being collected.

“We are collecting data to see how multidisciplinary teams work together using digital media,” Chandrasekera said.

The information will be shared by the professors at a virtual reality symposium this September.

Individual participants had a range of reasons why they wanted to be part of the high tech event.

“I wanted to be part of this because this is the future and I want to know how it will impact my field,” said Awilda Rodriguez Carrion, an associate professor in architecture construction. “Robots and artificial intelligence will be big.”

She said a robot will be able to build a brick wall in 10 minutes versus two hours for a bricklayer.

“A lot of the old models are going to change,” Carrion said.

Electrical Engineering major Kelvin Leu and computer science major Anshul Mukesh Garg, both said they are enjoying working with students from other departments.

“This peaked my interest because it is experimenting with new technology,” Leu said.

Garg agreed, saying, “Getting a jumpstart on new technology is a plus.”

Twitter: @dbittonNP