Momentum and Total Immersion on Weet-Bix Power Plays

It’s the gift that keeps on giving. My initial reaction to the Weet-Bix Power Plays augmented reality implementation caused quite a stir. Earlier this week I had a great talk with the companies behind the work: Gus from Momentum, and Boutrous from Total Immersion.

Firstly, the main clarification:

I said that the same thing could be done in Flash, and there was no need for a third-party plugin. It appears I was wrong. When I first tried the D’Fusion plugin, I could hold any card up and get the 3D Power Play to work. From this, I assumed it was using the card shape as the AR marker. After some tuning, the Power Plays AR implementation actually does image and text recognition on the All Blacks cards to determine which one you are holding up.

As far as I know, no Flash-based AR implementation can do the same thing. They all need some sort of marker or QR code to differentiate the physical media. If you know otherwise, feel free to comment below.

Secondly, the great news:

Soon after my initial feedback, Sanitarium removed the registration requirement, knocking about three steps off the process required to get the full experience from your cards.

Power Plays EULAIn addition, the Total Immersion guys are investigating how they can improve the plugin installation experience. They’re going to take away the “camera selected” button, and perhaps embed the Microsoft C++ libraries. They’re also looking at re-working the EULA text (at right) so it’s a bit more explanatory up front, instead of “APPENDIX 1!!!”.

If it all comes together, there should be a single prompt to download the plugin, followed by a EULA prompt (blame the laywers!), then you’re done.

I can’t say how stunned I am by this result. I understand how these things happen. Usually through a combination of tight deadlines and a focus on great technology above the “boring” usability stuff. But like any bad experience, the ultimate measure is in the willingness of the parties to resolve the issues. Sanitarium and their partners have outdone themselves in this respect.

I love Sanitarium, and I’m having Weet-Bix for breakfast tomorrow.

9 Replies to “Momentum and Total Immersion on Weet-Bix Power Plays”

  1. No real reason you couldn’t build that kind of image recognition in flash, but it wouldn’t be anywhere as close to realtime like as when done in C++ or another lower level language. Of course there are no off the shelf libraries in ActionScript for this at the moment, but some people are cross-compiling existing C++ libs using Adobe Alchemy to achieve stuff like this real-time face recognition in flash: http://labs.wichers.nu/2008/11/27/flash-and-real-time-face-recognition/

  2. You may be right that the D’Fusion plugin is required for text recognition, but it was still in my opinion a bad call to go with the (very poor) experience of installing and using that, rather than to include a unique marker on one side of each card and rely on most users already being set up.

  3. @Matthew Buchanan
    I’m not totally sure, but I think it may have been a case of “hey we have these cards right…”. Or at least the time between concept and launch didn’t allow for the turnarond time of defining and printing markers on all the cards.

  4. Usability should always be at the forefront here through – not the tech. You have to go back to reason why you are doing this – its not so that you can brag to your fellow marketers that your back end is better than theirs. It is about enhancing the consumer experience and that, in my opinion has been forgotten about here. This is the result of people thinking big in the first instance, but then leaving it there instead of following through in detail and fine tuning and amending it until the very end – which is still a few months away.

  5. I agree with everyone, and working inside marketing machines like this I’m pretty sure this was a case of “Hey, guys, this techie dude says we can image-recognise anything these days… Hey, Weetbix, don’t worry about making actual AR cards, go ahead with your months of food-safety-testing those regular ol’ cards, let’s just build the engine to recognise the cards, it’ll be easy. We’ll be sweet for launch…”

    That said, I’ll be happy when we don’t have to add weird blocky things to offline content to get AR devices to recognise it. But I won’t be offering such a concept to mainstream clients for a wee while yet…

  6. I still seem to be getting silent failures when I try to install the plugin on IE8 + Win7 64 bit… is 64bit OS supported by the D’Fusion runtime?

    Also HIT Lab NZ have some good mobile AR solutions that remove the need for a computer and a browser all together – http://hitlab.co.nz

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