A NEW TAKE ON THE ALPHABET
Everyone has a hobby. Collecting 80’s mix tapes. Late night fishing off the pier in Santa Monica. Street racing 70’s muscle cars at 2am. AR has turned into something of a hobby of ours. We’re constantly testing out new techniques to find out where we can go with it and how we can apply the technology to manipulate our world in different ways.
The AR Alphabet is one such internal initiative where we seek to bring the alphabet to brilliantly animated life. Our Brief: Take a children’s alphabet and interpret the letters as interactive worlds. Within our alphabet, each letter is a scene just waiting to be explored. Point your phone and out pops our astronaut and his floating asteroid. Tap around, blow up planets, push the astronaut and the scene becomes a mini sandbox for exploration.
DESIGNING THE LETTERS
Like those alphabet cards you use to quiz you child on their ABC’s, we designed each card with iconic elements that began with that letter. We’re fascinated with the educational market. Good design seems hit or miss. There’s a balance between the sophistication of commercial design and something that’s just fun to look at and play with. A part of this exercise was to strike that balance and create something user friendly for kids to play with, but also hold up to our standards as a design company.
We landed on a whimsical, geometric style that embraces discovery while maintaining a unified, slightly undersaturated color palette. Discovery was a key word for us. We wanted to build an interesting world within the artwork – something to spark imagination. We’re not talking about astronauts here, we’re also taking about gravity and space and the atoms that bind us all. Interesting stuff to dive into and illustrate within a single letter.
DESIGNING THE EXPERIENCE
We’ve been working with AR for some time now and have built a pipeline to support it. Our traditional designers and animators work in real-time creating assets that work within the engine powering the experience. The end goal was interaction. We wanted people to be able to touch these elements floating out of the card, play with physics and gravity. Give kids something to play with as they learn their letters.
Everything in the world is manipulatable. The astronaut abides by physics; if you tap on him, you push him in space. He’s tethered to the letter, so don’t worry about pushing him too much. He might get annoyed being pushed around over and over again, but hey – that’s a part of the fun. The planets and atoms floating in space are also triggers. Tap on them and they explode in a little puff of real-time particles. And, of course, the entire scene is bound to the card. Move the card around in physical space, and the scene moves with it.
We’re excited to continue to push these initiatives forward. Augmented Reality might be the new buzz word in advertising – but for us, we believe in its ability to give us new reasons to play and appreciate the world around us.