People are crazy about 7-Eleven iPhone App. Yet the design and execution behind the project is as tricky as catching the virtual Paddington Bears. We have interviewed developer Dennis to ask him what he did to make sure the AR technology creates maximum impact to the users.
GT CHATTERBOX: What do you like the most about 7-iCollection?
DENNIS: The Paddington Bears, definitely! Seriously, there is an intrinsic attractiveness with such concept like 7-iCollection because we can leverage the already strong fans base of 7-11′s premium collection.
What I like the most is not in the app itself but the way how users physically interact with it. Playing iPhone game has been a private act. No one sees you using it. In the case of 7-iCollection, you see people standing outside 7-11 stores, facial expressions twisted, shoulders shrugged, trying their best to catch the bears. And their friends will be enjoying the sight of it too.
The effect is viral. That’s why 7-iCollection has created buzz in various forums, which can rarely be achieved by an app.
GT CHATTERBOX: 7-iCollection uses the location-based augmented reality technology. What’s so special about it?
DENNIS: Location-based AR is nothing new and it’s been used in many iPhone apps too. However, most of those apps serve to inform, i.e. Virtual tags will be shown carrying the information of that location.
Ours is different in the sense that users can play directly with the virtual tags. So instead of passively reading information, users actively participate in the location-specific game.
GT CHATTERBOX: What else you’ve added to enhance 7-iCollection gaming experience?
DENNIS: When you open the AR Catcher, you’ll see the bears in different sizes. That actually represents distance. We’ve set that bears can be found within 500 meters of any 7-11 store on the street but that’s not enough. We’ve also added the distance as one parameter so when you’re right next to a 7-11, you’ll see a big bear; you’ll see a smaller one when you’re further away. Otherwise, regardless of the distance, all bears will appear to be in the same size.
Contextually, it makes sense too so that users can have a rough idea of different store locations through playing the game.
GT CHATTERBOX: We heard that some changes were made after the testing sessions. Can you tell us more about that?
DENNIS: That was about the Level of difficulty of the game. We needed to make sure the catching is not too difficult that will scare people off while it can’t be too easy that will bore people away. After the testing sessions, we found that the first version was a bit too difficult so we made adjustments in 3 variables to optimize the game:
1) The area for target locking;
2) The duration of each locking;
3) The sensitivity of the accelerometer.
GT CHATTERBOX: Last question, what’s the most challenging part during 7-iCollection development?
DENNIS: We needed to make sure locations of the 900+ 7-Eleven stores in Hong Kong are correctly input so that when users open the app near 7-Eleven stores, the AR Catcher can detect the virtual premium items smoothly. We thanks the client’s coordination and input on making the data accurate.
GT CHATTERBOX: Thank you for your time and we look forward to catching the next premium collection.