Microsoft and 20th Century Fox created a campaign that maps out Mark Watney's journey on Bing during a manned mission to Mars gone wrong. Presumed dead and left behind after a failed mission, Watney, played by Matt Damon, uses survival skills as a team of NASA scientists back on earth work to bring him home.
The Bing team allows fans to delve deeper into The Martian story with a special map experience, providing search results with information on Mars and space travel. The map has a set of movie and Mars-related information available to explore. Bing also created lesson plans for students, found at Bing in the Classroom.
"To see how Microsoft has brought the ideas and values of the film alive across Bing, Skype, and so much more is impressive and thrilling," Zachary Eller, SVP of marketing partnerships at 20th Century Fox, said in a statement.
The experience uses real imagery of Mars, Bing Maps API, and the Azure platform to track Watney's journey across Mars. It unlocks new stages of his travels during the next few weeks. The last point scheduled to unlock on Oct. 15.
The map offers features like posted flags along his path. Each contains a transmission from Watney with text, images or videos. Many flags include links to content related to the movie. Mission control provides a countdown to content.
Across the map, fans will find points of interest that include videos, search results and other resources that add context for space travelers. Watney will send daily transmissions of his progress.
The campaign also features a Hacking Mars Challenge that asks fans to design solutions to help Watney. Teams can research and submit a three- to-five-minute video about a product, service, app or game that would help Watney stay alive either grow food, filter air, produce water, as well as pass the time to keep hope alive, deal with extreme isolation and constant stress. And finally, teams might want to take on the challenge of getting Watney home. The deadline for entries is Oct. 13.
Participants have access to Microsoft experts via Skype and watch videos related to the film.
Out of three groups of finalists, one team will travel to Microsoft to experience Microsoft HoloLens and pocket the $25,000 grand prize for #HackMars -- in addition to a suite of Microsoft products like Surface, Xbox One and Microsoft Band.
While the campaign aims to entertain Mars and hacker enthusiast, Microsoft clearly has a goal to find talented developers. Although anyone in the world age 18 or older can enter the competition, students with science, technology, engineering, the arts and math backgrounds and interests "are strongly encouraged to try it out, as the film tie-in presents such a strong educational opportunity."