Webby for Good is a collaborative program formed by The Webby Awards and WP Engine to showcase Webby-recognized projects built to change the world.

All a user has to do is point their camera at any U.S. bill. This will trigger an AR overlay that replaces the existing portrait with one of 100 notable women. - Google Creative Lab Team
What’s the elevator pitch for your project?

Notable Women is an experiment in augmented reality that reimagines one of the most iconic honors in America: a portrait on our currency. Discover 100 historic American women—activists, artists, scientists, business leaders, and more—right on the money in your wallet.

All a user has to do is point their camera at any U.S. bill. This will trigger an AR overlay that replaces the existing portrait with one of 100 notable women.

Made in partnership with former Treasurer of the U.S. Rosie Rios and thoughtfully designed for the classroom, Notable Women empowers tomorrow’s leaders to learn about the women who shaped U.S. history in a place that, for more than 100 years, has only featured men.

What was the impetus for this project? What real-world challenge were you trying to solve?

Treasurer Rios drove the U.S. Treasury Dept’s initiative to put a woman on our currency for the first time in over 100 years. In 2016, after a public outreach process, Harriet Tubman was announced as the new face of the $20 bill.

But the outreach and resulting submissions, which generated a database of almost 250 women suggested by Americans across the country, inspired Treasurer Rios just as much as the chance to put one on currency.

She asked us to consider how to highlight the contributions of all of these women. We realized that AR was the perfect tech for the job because it allows us to honor many historic Americans in a place where we normally show just one.

Once you settled on your idea, what was your first step in moving it forward?

Our first step was to identify the amazing partners necessary to bring Notable Women to life.

The project is created in collaboration with Rosie Rios, the former Treasurer of the United States, whose legacy centers around elevating the contributions of historic women in classrooms and on currency. Additionally, we worked with a historian to choose the 100 featured women and collaborated with an educator to create lesson plans, so that teachers can easily bring Notable Women into the classroom. Finally, we partnered with Nexus Studios to build the AR app and create the detailed portrait illustrations for each of the featured women.

Was there a moment during the project where you ran into a hurdle; or faced a problem you didn’t know how to solve? Take us to this moment, what happened and what did you do next?

The primary audience for Notable Women is teachers and students. We aren't educators ourselves, so there were a few instances in which we weren’t sure what might be useful in the classroom. After talking to several teachers, we decided to elevate learning touchpoints throughout the project.

We created a teacher’s kit, including Common Core lesson plans, so that teachers don’t need to do extra prep work to bring Notable Women into the classroom.

We even decided to use lower resolution illustrations so that the app would download easily in schools with old devices or slower WiFi.

Finally, we ensured that the project was free to everyone—all they need is a phone and a dollar bill.

About the Best Use of Augmented Reality category

Apps, mobile sites, and progressive web apps that set the industry standard for merging the real-world environment with digital imagery and interfaces through cameras, filters, lenses, QR codes, and/or other technologies.