University of Virginia Embraces Augmented Reality Technology with New Mobile Feature


While universal adoption of mobile-friendly technology among alumni associations lags behind other industries, University of Virginia’s new mobile app feature looks to reshape how schools spark alumni participation and engagement. Through augmented reality technology, the feature allows alumni to take a video or picture with a 3-D hologram of the university’s mascot, the Cav Man. Accompanied by a social media campaign, this capability goes beyond those of other alumni mobile apps tracked by Corporate Insight’s Alumni Monitor.

Developed by UVA alumnus Shawn Flaherty—whose firm Balti Virtual develops augmented and virtual reality technology—the digital mascot poses and dances in sync with the university’s fight song, “The Good Ol’ Song.” The app allows users to either pose for a picture or take a video with the hologram Cav Man.

To use the feature, alumni must first download the free AppAR8 app on a smartphone or tablet and then place a “V” trigger where they would like the hologram mascot to appear. Next, users can choose from four different decal options—Desktop, 15-inch, 20-inch and 24-inch—to determine how large they would like Cav Man to appear in the photo. From there, they can either take a standalone picture or video of the mascot or decide to pose with the Cav Man in any location. The new feature serves to not only promote the alumni association’s mobile presence, but also to creatively engage with alumni through technological innovation.

Cav Man with Sean

Cav Man Demo with Founder Shawn Flaherty

The augmented reality Cav Man was first introduced during the NCAA basketball tournament this past March to encourage support from the university’s alumni network. Along with the new mobile feature, the alumni association launched a social media campaign encouraging users to take pictures or videos with the virtual Cav Man and post on social media using the hashtags #UVAClubs, #UVACavMan and #CavMan. A social media wall on a dedicated Cav Man page displays the latest social media posts.

Cav Man Social Media

Cav Man Social Media Wall (Truncated)

When looking to expand mobile capability or move into this space, schools should take advantage of exciting new technologies like augmented reality to bolster alumni engagement.

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