With Easter weekend approaching in New Zealand as the entire nation stays home under a level four lockdown, it’s safe to say that this holiday won’t look like previous holidays. Any activities happening to mark the occasion must take place only with people who are in each other’s bubbles, and in the comfort of their own homes.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a little creativity to make the Easter experience a bit more exciting. It’s for this reason that Method has used the power of web AR technology to create an augmented reality Easter Egg hunt for families to take part in.
“This is going to be a really unusual Easter for people, so we were thinking, what could we do to bring some joy back in?” Method’s managing director Sam Ramlu says.
“Due to Covid-19, everything has closed down in terms of entertainment, so we wanted to do something family-friendly and playful for Easter with the usual Method creative tech spin. No one has been through this before and this lockdown is such an unusual and stressful event, so I think humour and play is going to get us through this.
“People are looking for experiences that keep us connected and keep us sane. This is an opportunity to play and spend more valuable time with your family.”
The Great Indoor Easter Egg Hunt works as follows: the family gets together to draw, decorate and cut out five Easter egg shapes, and an adult then hides the eggs around the house according to the instructions detailed by Method.
Next, the children (and maybe even some adults) start the hunt for the eggs! Using a mobile phone they simply head to The Great Indoor Easter Egg Hunt website, click “Start Hunt”, and follow the on screen instructions. Each time they discover an egg they hold it up in view of the camera to see a surprise animation, and the next clue, play out through augmented reality.
There are no app downloads required, and the technology is as simple to use as opening up a web browser.
“We’ve spent a lot time on ensuring the user journey is as simple as possible and the experience is as accessible to as many families as possible, tech allowing,” Ramlu says.
The project demonstrates what Method specialises in - using design, animation, storytelling, gaming and tech to blend real-life environments with the digital world to create an engaging experience.
Previous projects include Auckland Museum’s Secret World of Butterflies exhibition, a VR experience for Mercury using its electric car Evie, and AR tours for Ng?ti Wh?tua Or?kei of Bastion Point and its history.
Due to the current circumstances at play, Method’s focus has now pivoted from location-based experiences to elevating home-based experiences during the lockdown.
“We love linking the physical with the digital and we know right now, parents are struggling with screen time and how they balance it,” Ramlu says. “Screen time doesn’t have to be mindless or always the bad guy, and there can be a link to the physical as well. We love the idea of kids drawing the eggs and decorating them, but then the added layer of the digital bringing a surprise to life. They’ll love creating their very own Magic Easter Eggs.”
In terms of the technical muscle behind the Easter Egg Hunt, Method has recently built its own web-based augmented reality platform for businesses and agencies called MATTAR that creates rich, interactive AR experiences that can be viewed directly in a mobile browser.
Seeing as client campaigns on the platform have been put on hold because of the Covid-19 situation, it was the perfect opportunity for Method to test the technology themselves with the public.
Ramlu says up until recently, AR experiences on web browsers – versus on an app – haven’t been the most user friendly.
“Not all browsers supported AR content which led to lagging, plus the image recognition had to be really rigid, much like a QR code,” she says. “Now, the browsers have caught up and they can handle web AR much better, while image recognition is now available. Thanks to Google Cloud Vision, we can also run campaigns that recognise real objects adding a whole another layer of possibilities for brands.”
As the technology webAR uses is contactless and digitally created, there’s a clear opportunity for brands to engage with their audiences using this tech during the lockdown and long after.
Ramlu says Method’s mantra through this crisis has become “Keep playing to win, not just to survive” when it comes to digital communications and experiences and their own strategy.
She says she’s been asking clients, if they took Covid-19 out of the situation, does this pivot still work for their brand? Or is it a quick fix for the next few weeks, but has no longevity in the long-term?
“I know a lot of people are in survival mode at the moment, but we’re thinking long-term,” Ramlu says. “Instead of pausing, we’ve thought, ‘What could we do to accelerate some of our own original IP?’ So we’re doubling down on our efforts to create engaging content. Let’s get people being more playful, instead of panicking.” There is of course a cheeky nod to panic buying in one of the clues.
Check out The Great Indoor Easter Egg Hunt here. To find out more about how the Mattar platform could work for you, get in touch here.