Kinecting with the audience at the London Toy Fair

The brief

Whilst working on a suite of digital products for the well known Carte Blanche Group (brands include Tatty Teddy and My Blue Nose Friends) with Masters Of Pie, we were asked how we might maximise the stand they had at this year’s London Toy Fair.
Our challenge was to build something specifically for the fair that would attract bystanders, provide a memorable and enjoyable experience with the brand, as well as introduce one of the characters from the Blue Nose Friends collection (an easy choice – Coco the excitable monkey!).

Our next question was what would attract and engage the bystanders -it needed to be something casual, fun, and non-intrusive  in order to draw people in willingly and give busy bystanders something they wanted to play with.

We looked at how Coco might have some fun and how he could interact with visitors and decided upon an rhythm based game where the user would take control of Coco using the Kinect to hit his Bongos in beat to the music.

The game

Using the Kinect, once a person was present the game invited the user to play by waving, by waving back would start the game.  Players were scored on how accurate they hit the bongos to the beat of the music (highest scorer each day won a bottle of champagne) and, when the track finished Coco then invited the player to have their photo taken – the user posed before picking one of four snaps (the four include the posed one and shots taken from the game) which was then emailed to them (including contact details for a Carte Blanche representive).

The whole session was fun, engaging and energetic but only lasts around two minutes which worked well for the busy visitors, as well as allowing the brand to have a good number of people including manufacturers, buyers and press trying it out throughout the day.

The result

The stand was kept busy throughout the duration of Toy Fair with many visitors asking where and when they could purchase the game. It drew crowds of people in who were then engaged and entertained for long enough to have fun but not so long that they felt imposed upon.

Most visitors explored the rest of the stand after the game which meant further engagement with the brand and of course, Carte Blanche were then able to email the visitor with their photo, when usually the interaction would cease once the visitor leaves the stand. The game also resulted in positive press, following the event.

Lessons / Closing remarks

1. Target the Right Audience.  At a big show like the Toy Fair, where thousands of visitors are walking past hundreds of stands, you need to understand and be able to engage a target set of users. Whilst kids are the usual Carte Blanche audience and might be happy to jump around and play in front of others, adults require that you gently introduce them and slowly build up engagement.

2. Design for the Technology (as well as the user). The Kinect is a brilliant and fun technology to work with but it’s new and not perfect so you need to be conscious of this and incorporate these ‘features’ into your design (such issues include user detection – your user needs to be in clear view as detection can be affected by lighting, distance and other passers-by – to a slight latency which could affect the user’s enjoyment of the game).

3. Create a User Friendly Experience. Despite gesture based user interfaces being part of the Natural User Interfaces family, they are still in their infancy stage as most of us who have been using computers for some time find a mouse and keyboard more natural therefore, part of  the experience you create should include building up the user’s confidence in using the new technology.

4. Brand Engagement is Everything. Make the experience enjoyable, unique and, above all, memorable.