Dayton, OH — This summer, high school students were not alone in doing their research on colleges. MARV, an interactive research RV, joined upperclassmen in their exploration of higher education. Designed to interview and entertain while touring college campuses, MARV also promoted Welcome to College (welcometocollege.com), a user-driven web application that helps high school students connect with the right school.
MARV, an acronym for Mobile Automated Research Vehicle, was designed by Real Art Design Group to be the coolest, most engaging RV ever seen. Using his interactive display screen—located on his rear windshield—MARV interviewed students, faculty and administration about everything high school kids and parents need to know about colleges. These answers and interactions were later uploaded to the Welcome to College website.
Welcome to College invited users to vote for each college on MARV’S summer 2011 tour. The colleges with the most votes—Ohio State, University of Pittsburgh, MIT, and Harvard—were visited by MARV.
Starting with a 1973 GMC RV, Real Art Design Group began creating this smart RV by giving him a face-lift and mechanical repairs. Next, they added his more out-of-the-ordinary features, including solar panels, confetti cannons, fog machines, light show capabilities, prize dispenser, rear airbags that allow him to dance, and the personality and sense of humor that made MARV irresistible to college students.
“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, Inc.
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 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 made a big impact for Welcome to College. During his tour, the startup saw a 60 percent increase in user sign ups on their website, growth in university partnerships and new interest from university administrators. Welcome to College plans to tour more schools with MARV this fall.