Follow the dancing dude

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?

More at


Lumin enlightens at The Detroit Institute of Art

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.

Pokéstops in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Pokemon in the Ninth Ward

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.

Read Pokémon Go in the Lower Ninth Ward by Rob Walker

Turning the airport dash into an Olympic sprint

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.

See more at Visual News and Spoon and Tango.

Early Lessons from Disney’s MagicBands


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.

Disney shared a few of their observations about how people use the wearable technology in an article entitled A Billion-Dollar Bracelet Is the Key to a Disney Park. We can learn a lot from their comments:

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.

Birdman: The Ride

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…