2019: Beyond AR Hacks and Breaking free of myself.

Ina Yosun Chang
4 min readFeb 28, 2019

In 2019, I want to break free of my strange state of solipsistic startupism. I want to take an intentional hiatus from being the creative productizing version of a DIY mad scientist, to fully figuring out how to take a critical number of users/customers to establish the homeostasis (or perpetual growth) of one or more businesses. Perhaps related (or, more humbly), I’d like to make my projects financially self-sustaining, so that I can stop selling off my time to work on things I don’t find meaningful.

Ten years ago, I embarked on a journey to make things of value that could help the communities I partook in in ways that other efforts could not— with the secret weapon of being able to build any[digital-software-related]thing myself. It was as lean as any startup could be: all I needed to do was keep myself alive, and I’ll keep creating, night and day. From a founding, building and growing a Shakespearean theatre in a global 3D multiuser virtual environment to winning all the hackathons out there to being able to reverse engineer and then build anything involving computer vision to being a ridiculous one person AR startup machine, here is a brief timeline of projects — with the focus mostly on the last few years.

This has transformed into a strange creative megalomaniac form of voyeurism where I would literally come up with a concept, then build all of it myself. And repeat, sometimes an-app-a-day (or even in an hour). Here’s just my favorites of 2018:

Wall Secret lets you post beautiful-looking secrets on real walls and surfaces, anywhere in the world. (I also wrote and presented a paper about that and related technologies I’ve built for SIGGRAPH 2018.)

Wall Secret as part of my WallText SIGGRAPH2018 Paper

I added in maps for a December release, in collaboration with an art class Zenka taught in Argentina:

Wall Secret, live at SFO’s Cat Exhibit — now with map feature

PlayGAMI: dubbed an “AR origami creativity platform” lets you draw on real origami paper and turn your folded creation into a digital action figure (And, of course Origamiji — this app-an-hour was possible largely due to artist collaboration.)

PlayGAMI at World Makerfaire NYC 2018!
Get the cutest origami AR app for your iPhone X, iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max! http://get.origamiji.com

faced.io Digitizer lets you turn whatever you draw on real paper into an AR filter you can wear on your face on your phone (or WebGL desktop browser).

Draw on real paper → Wear in AR!

Arguably, I SDK like crazy and steal from opensource like an artist, thus the state of my head in the clouds is partly due to standing on the shoulders of giants. But, being that the creation of the product (as opposed to its components) was a solitary experience, it lacks the natural support team to nurture and tell the world about it. A bizarre analogue would be that of the prodigal mother who conceives and gives birth daily. She soon has way too many children to ever be a Jewish mom about things.

Sometimes, I create things for these contests with interesting cash prizes.

Sometimes, things work out and I win TechCrunch Disrupt SF Hackathon Grand Prize yet again:

They didn’t write an article about my second time winning Grand Prize at TechCrunch Hackathon, but here’s the official check from the TechCrunch flickr!

faceStylr is Polyvore meets augmented reality and machine learning for styling your face.

faceStylr TechCrunch Grand Prize Pitch

Sometimes, things don’t work out and I become coughing-sick and depressed for a month after that:

Diorama Infinity was created for the Alexa Kids App Challenge and lets you turn your Echo Show into an AR diorama box so that you can build and enact your magical safari animal stories and even create beautiful backgrounds that your mom can use for her Echo Show!

The prizes were great, but somehow I did not win any of them. I couldn’t tell what went wrong, other than that my entry seemed too polished or perhaps it was too whimsical of a product — or, product-market-fit hit mother and kid too perfectly? :-( I then couldn’t bring myself to submit entries to other Devpost Amazon contests that year until the AWS AI contest — primarily because I was taken by a AWS Polly Indian-accented English machine voice actor’s delivery of a Hamlet soliloquy (and the chance to collaborate with a pair of shooting unicorns). (I’m a sore depression-prone loser, but interesting new tech can do wonders in cheering me up!)

You might say that I take things too personally — as if an artist. I am grateful that I got to start and end 2018 with art projects — the things I’d love to be able to do full time, but I haven’t figured out the money thing yet, so my main canon will likely still be startup-like apps and stuff.

Bubble Chaos Echo Chamber for Mozilla Reality Redrawn Challenge

Magic Remotes and Infinity Mirrors with Zenka at the Influx Reality Mixer

Body Art Augmented Reality in Key West

For now — I’m on Patreon.com/yosun



Ina Yosun Chang

{wonder, innovation, elegance} ∈ a hacker's take on augmented reality, 3d graphics, mobile iOS and Android dev, startups, COOL STUFF and life