In this week’s episode of the LA Weekly weekly podcast, host and publisher Brian Calle sits down with Neil Mandt, one of the founders of CrimeDoor, an Augmented Reality (AR) experience. Neil, along with talented wife Lauren Mandt, created the app as a way to open doors to real crime scenes, giving the audiences of today’s viewing trends a more immersive option than endless binge-watching. As Hollywood producers, the two know a good story, and how to hook an audience.
Lauren is a media veteran, with a background in marketing and operations in fashion, wellness, television and immersive media. Since 2015, Lauren has focused exclusively on creating AR/VR content. Neil joined her that same year and has been a pioneer of content creation in Augmented and Virtual Reality, creating over 20 original series in the immersive space. In addition to AR and VR work, Neil is a five-time EMMY Award-winning producer, widely known for producing ABC News’ coverage of both the OJ Simpson trial and Oklahoma City bombing.
“I was there for the trial in 1995,” shares Neil. “Nobody knew it was going to be that long … it was a pretty unique experience.”
“I was at the Oklahoma City bombing the day that it happened, for ABC again, and that was just brutal,” he continues. The two heart-wrenching experiences made him want to get out of news, because the on slot of bad news with no ability to help became too frustrating.
It was from this desire to get involved and do more than just producing and watching the news that the basis of CrimeDoor was built.
“Essentially users are stepping into the exact scenes detectives encountered when they originally arrived at a crime scene,” explains the creators. “The doors allow users and law enforcement alike to access the crime scene in perpetuity to help solve the case.”
But don’t let the nature of the “game” fool you; CrimeDoor is not meant to celebrate, glorify, nor put you in the shoes of killers. Rather, give a voice to the victims, casting a wider net into a sea of possible brilliant minds to help bring a conclusion to some of the most pressing unsolved cases today.
The purpose of CrimeDoor isn’t just entertainment, it serves a healing and helpful purpose for the real-life victims of true crime experiences and the family they’ve left behind. The duo is currently working with the Zahau family on a custom door to help solve the gruesome 2011 murder of their daughter Rebecca near San Diego. Paul Holes, a cold case investigator famous for his expertise and dedication, has partnered on this CrimeDoor mission as well. A retired cold case investigator of 27 years, Holes specialized in cold case and serial predator crimes and is best known for his involvement in the famous Zodiac, Golden State Killer, and Jaycee Dugard cases.
Unsolved cases and new content are added on a daily basis to raise awareness for those who can no longer speak for themselves. From famous murders like that of JonBénet Ramsey to local mysteries, users are asked to test their wit, intellect and gut as they become crime solvers in their own right. The ultimate goal? Possibly bringing justice to those who need it most.
CrimeDoor is a groundbreaking app in the immersive media space. In fact, it is the only app on the marketplace currently with native AR. How can you get involved? The app is available on iOS and Android and is free to download.
From there, you’ll receive a map of cases pinned by geolocation with AR CrimeDoors at each spot. Choose your door to enter the actual crime scenes of high-profile cases, where you’ll receive all news relevant to your case, from the latest discoveries to initial findings. Due to the nature of CrimeDoor, all users must be 17+ to participate.