You may have heard about how Facebook Reality Labs and US Ignite have teamed up to enable the most epic augmented reality challenges across the nation! You may have also heard about how Raleigh was one of three cities selected to host these challenges, with RIoT at the helm. What you might not have heard is the incredible stories behind the finalists and their projects.

On April 12th, RIoT came together with the City of Raleigh, Town of Cary and Google Fiber to challenge makers and creators to improve our communities with augmented reality in one of three ways: 

1) Improve inclusivity and accessibility for city programs & services 

2) Reinvent the Raleigh Convention Center for economic impact and 

3) Drive workforce development for the data economy

Several teams pitched their augmented reality ideas but only six were selected to engage in a 12-week project sprint to further develop their projects before competing for a chance to win $40k and spot in the RIoT Accelerator Program! Here’s a sneak peak into the stories and passions driving each of these projects.


  • BlueCareer by BlueRecruit – AR course modules for solar industry training and certification 

Blue Recruit team

The inspiration for the creation of RAP alum startup, BlueRecruit, came from founder Rich Camacho’s recognition of a tool gap for blue collar workers to find employment opportunities. While white collar workers have an endless amount of job searching tools catered to their job function, skilled workers, in the past have not. BlueRecruit is changing that and now they are minimizing that tool gap for skilled workers even further by creating an advanced job skills training program and certification for the solar industry. BlueRecruit recognizes that job functions are changing for the blue collar workforce and the BlueCareer project is about skilled workers staying ahead of technology shifts.

  • OurTown: Raleigh by DOUBTLESS – Unlocks the history of Raleigh via walkable and R-line busable AR experiences 

OurTown project lead, Olivia Cleveland, has a passion for elevating the stories and voices of those who cannot tell their own story. This AR experience will elevate the voices of raleigh both past and current. Those who may have never been heard, will get to be heard through OurTown. Part of Olivia’s passion for elevating the silenced voices through history comes from her own experiences as a traumatic brain injury survivor. Because of her injury, she experiences intermittent voicelessness and often finds that others interpret her silence in a negative way, but she has found that once she gets a chance to share her story, people are understanding. Olivia is committed to incorporating accessibility features into the OurTown experience so everyone can enjoy it.

  • CyreneQ – AR learning tools on social media platforms that increase student engagement, interaction and fun 

Don’t be surprised if you recognize @CyreneQ. She is after all, a viral award-winning augmented reality content creator that has been seen on the red carpet. Cyrene is well-known for creating her AR snapchat filters and is a winner of the 10th annual Youtube Streamy Awards. What started as fun and games for Cyrene Quiamco, became a platform for doing good. Cyrene started to recognize that she could leverage her skills and following to create meaningful content, like learning tools. Recently she created a free x-ray AR filter on snapchat that has been used in classrooms as a fun, immersive learning aid. Cyrene is excited to further build out fun, immersive educational content for students.

  • LiRA – Improves communication for voice-impaired people and in noisy environments by translating lip motions to text 

LiRA CEO, Andrew Prince, became aware of the trauma caused by voicelessness as a Head & Neck Surgery Resident at UNC. During Andrew’s residency, he has watched firsthand as aphonic patients panic when receiving a critical diagnosis and their exhaustion as they try to communicate everything through writing. This startup, made up of a diverse interdisciplinary team, sprung out of the UNC Healthcare Innovation Challenge and now the company is gaining incredible traction, with partnerships like Microsoft, Clinton Global Initiative University and Source Stack. 

  • NatureXR – Development tool to plan and build water gardens for storm/rainwater management 

Derek Rowe

NatureXR rainwater management project lead, Derek Rowe, has demonstrated his passion for sustainable technology throughout his career. He was one of the first RIoT Accelerator Program participants, as an early team member of GreenToGo, an app-based service that provides reusable takeout containers for restaurants. In his role at NatureXR, Derek helps advance education, conservation, and restoration of the natural world through immersive technology. This particular project helps repurpose rainwater and prevent flooding, helping to prevent environmental destruction and save municipalities money with green infrastructure. The AR technology will assist city governments, landscapers and homeowners in designing augmented rain gardens that can beautify the city, provide habitat for butterflies and bees and offset rainwater management costs. 

  • Wild Portals- An Unconventional Raleigh-ty – A modern day AR storytelling adventure within the walls of Raleigh’s Convention Center, that tells the story of Raleigh and its 229 year history as the “City of Oaks”

Tony Wild

Tony Wild, Managing Director of Wild Portals, is an expert at creating immersive augmented reality experiences. His team over at Wild Portals is shaping the future of sports and live events by attaching AR activations to live experiences and sports collectibles. However, changing the game in sports is not all Tony is interested in. As a true augmented reality enthusiast, Tony and his team have been involved with many immersive AR experiences. From becoming an early AR partner with Snapchat to creating immersive AR experiences at special events for the City of Peoria (Arizona), Wild Portals is consistently fostering new brand partnerships while continuing to explore AR solutions for cities and municipalities.