When we walk down a city block, we are surrounded by signs, landmarks, buildings, and infrastructure — each element provides context to our journey. Whether we notice them or not, many of them leave indelible and memorable marks on our mental maps: that uneven sidewalk, this neon sign, that old-timey storefront. But when we ride the subway, all context between point A and point B disappears.
Happy to announce that we’ll be hosting a playfinding session at SXSW 2019 entitled “Mummies to Manet: Immersive Experiments in Museums.” Please join us in Austin in March for an engaging conversation with Dia Felix of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Andrea Montiel De Shuman of Detroit Institute of Arts and Jennifer Snyder of The Art Institute of Chicago. Take a minute to check out all the other great sessions in SXSW’s Experiential Storytelling Track.
René Magritte’s mission was to imbue prosaic things like men in bowler hats with surreal effects. frog design and SFMOMA take that mission a step further by enlivening his paintings in an immersive gallery as part of the show “René Magritte: The Fifth Season” on view May 19–October 28, 2018. Check out this video and Mashable’s article on the exhibit, in which Chad Coerver, SFMOMA’s chief content officer, said:
“These kinds of wordless, playful experiences can have tremendous impact… It somehow serves to cement the experiences and bring them closer to the artwork in ways that words can’t.”
A sublime example of playfinding if there ever was one, the new iOS app HotStepper mashes up navigation, AR, animated avatars and a dollop of Pythonesque silly-walking to keep you laughing from point A to point B. Why follow a soulless blue dot down the sidewalk when you can join a rotund, pants-less conductor’s party train instead?
The Detroit Institute of Arts partnered with Google and mobile developer GuidiGO to create Lumin, an augmented reality experience within its Middle Eastern collections. This is the first public demonstration of Google’s Project Tango real-time 3D mapping platform. Visitors follow a borrowed Android smartphone to navigate to seven stops on this tour, revealing X-ray imagery and color restorations when they pan the smartphone screen over the objects. Read Marina Gross-Hoy’s thoughtful review of the experience on her blog, Imaginibus.
Since Pokémon Go started clogging my neighborhood sidewalks and my twitter feed, I’ve been most curious about its Pokéstops—real-world landmarks geo-located within the game’s world. I’ve only dabbled in Pokémon Go in an area dense with significant physical landmarks (Lower Manhattan) and wondered what it’s like to play (and play-find) in more expansive less touristy landscapes.
Journalist Rob Walker took the game for a spin (literally: on his morning bike rides) through his neighborhood, the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. His thoughtful essay explores the game’s tenuous connection to the real world in a place where ruin, rebuilding, and change have already augmented reality far more than a game could.
Experience design firm ESI put 300 S. Wacker Drive in Chicago back on the map by creating a steel and light mural on the building’s blank concrete facade. Read more here and watch a profile of ESI on CBS here. (and read my piece about ESI’s Dream Cube in Shanghai here.)
Check out how Tokyo-based creative lab PARTY uncoiled a carpeted running track in the newest terminal of Narita Airport. A playful nod to Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Olympics, the running track directs travelers toward their gates (blue lanes) and to baggage claim (red lanes.)
What a delightful—and inexpensive—way to guide visitors with a knowing wink that both acknowledges the frantic pace of travel and celebrates the upcoming Olympic festivities.
Disney launched MagicBands—RFID wristbands—at its Orlando parks in 2013. They were developed to replace ticketing and hotel room keys, to enhance and personalize experiences at the parks and, of course to make it easier to spend money on Disney property.
1. When you launch a new technology for visitors, training staff is critical. Disney’s 70,000 employees had to be trained on the smartband system — the pilot was extended partially to complete training.
2. You can learn a lot from pilot tests. Disney launched this project with a “test-and-adjust” phase which they had to extend to learn as much as they could from the initial visitor interaction. First, only selected visitors who stayed at Disney resorts were able to opt in to the Magic Bands—now all visitors to Disney World can use them. Over the course of the pilot, about 3.5 million visitors used the technology.
3. Visitors prefer smartphones to kiosks in this case. “A faster-than-expected consumer shift to mobile devices had actually saved Disney money; most guests are using their smartphones to gain access to the system while inside the parks, reducing the need for Disney to install costly kiosks.”
4. It is very difficult to pinpoint return on investment on technology that improves the visitor experience. “we’re still trying to figure out how to measure the return on what is a rather large investment. That’s where the frustration is.” While they know that the system allowed 3,000 more visitors to enter the Magic Kingdom (frictionless entry to the park), they do not know the overall impact of the system.
What does the film Birdman have to do with playfinding? Playfinding, as defined here, is the concept of transforming the taxing and often austere act of navigating into a delightful, enchanting experience. Or, to repeat a Chinese proverb: “the journey is the reward.” Alejandro González…
Eric Howeler and Meejin Yoon of the Boston firm Howeler and Yoon Architecture have transformed a temporary park in South Boston into a delightful surprise — glowing swings beckon old and young to curl up and sway in purple orbits. Meejin Yoon has a playful perspective on the public realm, and thrilled Xlab 2013 audiences. Please join us for Xlab 2014 on November 6.
How will game developers and navigation app developers use the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine? At the launch on September 9th, Apple’s Kevin Lynch explained that the watch will tap you on the wrist to tell you whether to turn left or right as you follow a route on Apple Maps.
Soon we will able to literally (and gently) nudge visitors toward their destination—a real improvement over squinting at maps or obeying Siri’s commands…
Playfinding is a word coined by Leslie Wolke to describe the convergence of wayfinding (tools that help people navigate or find their way) and play — delightful ways to interact with and explore your environment.