Nike Race The Pace

On your Marks, Get Set, Go!

Nike Race The Pace is a fun and dynamic World Facing AR Experience developed with NikeLA for Instagram in which the User can race one of three 3D Characters that represent the Olympic champion record on a given Running Pace. At the end of the experience a result screen shows the user how they compare to to world leadings Athletes calculating their speed and pace.

Mobile • Social AR
Experience Designer •  Developer •  Art Direction
A massive collaboration by:
Cory Hutchinson
Shamus Shalkowicz
Theodor Adrianov
Ana Carolina Estarita
We were approached by Nike to create an Experience that “made people move” and that’s exactly what we did. I was in charge of the research and technical validation of what was possible with the technology and worked very closely with the Creative Director in coming up with the experience. Once we started production I was in charge of the experience design and flow, some of the art direction and the technical implementation.
The Biggest challenge
Working on Race the Pace we had to meet two main Key Performance indicators: Make People Move and Make it fun.

For a lot of people when they think of Social AR the first thought that comes to their mind is the “beauty filters” on Instagram. And to be hones, given the way the Social AR space has developed, this can be true in a lot of cases. While other platforms like Snapchat or TikTok had more effective Body tracking at the time, Nike wanted to develop a full body experience in Instagram which presented its unique challenges particularly how to validate movement without body tracking. To solve this problem we went to the oldest validation system: our peers.
Researching multiple Instagram Filters that dealt with the issue of point keeping or success/failure without actual validation, we saw a consistent workaround: Social validation. Instagram challenges like the sign challenge do not use computer vision to keep track of points, but use the “share” option as a way of validate your performance with your peers.

When we started thinking of Race The Pace and what form it would take we very quickly decided that it would work the best as an experience that is meant to be shared. This meant that what happened before “Record” and after “Record” had to be treated as almost two different stages on the whole process. This approach gave us the freedom to design a very robust user flow, where the first stage is focused mostly in making sure the user only needs to record once giving clear instructions to both the runner and the phone holder, and the second stage is mostly focused in creating a fun shareable experience.
A thing to remember when working on Social AR is that unlike other interactive experiences where users trying something for the first time they do not know what to expect, when a user opens an AR experience in social media, they’ve already seen someone else using it and they have an idea of how to interact with the experience creating trends or memes.

When planning the User Flow for Race The Pace, that first interaction where the user is seeing either a friend or an influencer using the experience became the starting point of the user Journey. Because the experience has longer setup that what is usually seen on social AR, we needed to make sure the payoff was big and was worth it. This becomes even more important while considering this an experience that requires two users: the one running and the one holding the phone. Making the resulting recording of the user running next to a super fun 3D character followed by the results screen impactful enough was critical.
The Experience can be found through Demo videos, Other user's recordings, Nike IG profile Page or the experience reel page
Here are some of core the decisions we made to create a successful experience.
  • The first two instructions are: “Go Outside With A Friend” and “Find a Flat and Well Lit Space”: We wanted to make sure the user trying the experience had to restart it the least times possible. Stating the two main conditions from the beginning, made it so the user could decide right there and then if they could engage with the ARE immediately or needed to come back later once the conditions were met.
  • One of the biggest challenges on this experience was deciding when to ask the user to pick their pace. Even though we were using Instagram default UI Picker, we wanted to introduce the characters early. But introducing them too early when the track wasn’t already set didn’t feel natural. On the other hand waiting to introduce the characters in the track starting line felt like it left the experience running for two long without any sort of exciting payoff. We decided that making it part of the “Tap the screen to place your track” was both an exciting surprise but also made sense from the timing standpoint. At this moment of the experience, both the racer and the phone holder would be on the same place and it would allow the runner to also make part of the selection process
  • We built instructions that are meant to be visible only during recording but not on the final recorded version. This instructions are meant to give clarity to the phone holder about what is meant to happen at every stage
  • The Results screen: We wanted to create a culminating point to the experience that worked as a shareable bit. The result screens brings the attention back to the “racing” point of the experience, but also allowed us to have some sort of validation by tracking the amount of time it took to the runner to complete the track.
Left to Right: Onboarding Instructions. Recording UI with additional Instructions. Preview and Sharing Screen
  • This ARE starts in World view. The user is invited to try it with a friend, then prompted to find an open space to place the running track.
  • A visual aid appears in the interface showing how to scan the ground. Once the user has scanned the ground, they tap the screen to reveal the UI picker to select which pace to race: Marathon, 1500 meters or 400 meters pace champion
  • After 5 seconds and once the user has selected an option, the racing track appears, Indicating the starting point, the distance and the pace being raced.
  • The racer is instructed to go to the starting line and stand at the beginning of the track. The friend is prompted to hit record to start the race.
  • Once the user presses record, all the UI and informational components of the track disappear as a 3-second countdown cues the race start.
  • On “GO”  the racer runs the on the track while a friend holds the phone. The friend taps the screen once the user crosses the finish line stopping the counter and revealing the user’s running pace for that distance.
  • Once the user stops recording the video replays, showing the race and the result screen. The different options for sharing on Instagram are shown.