Mail Adventure (Test Product)

Project Overview

Physical & Digital Together

For some parents, if you add some scary words like Augmented Reality and Machine Learning, they'll often cringe and say it's too much technology for their child. For us, we believe that sometimes new tech can be used in intuitive and simple ways to engage a child; it can encourage their creativity, curiousity, and adventurous natures.

Mail Adventure was a simple app with a few games to test the boundaries of Machine Learning and continue our pursuit of play in a physical + digital space. From interviews, and playtesting we were 100% confident that children would love the idea of mail. Often parents would comment on how much a child loves getting something in the mail. To grow this interest, we created a physical mail bag that had multiple uses and with it supplied all the components a child would need to create, write, draw and explore the role play of mail. Then alongside the kit, we created an app with the story of Homer, renamed to Harvey later, a mail carrying pigeon who needs their help taking care of the mail.

UX Strategy Point: Vertical Kids App
Yes, the app is vertical. Research and testing proved from Parker, and further studying with Mail that children of ages 2-5 will cover the camera when the device is horizontal since they're used to holding the sides, which is where the camera is if it's horizontal. We had to make a tough call, even for just the one game that when we require camera use, the best scenario and least friction to usability was a vertical app. We experiment with rotation of the camera but often that brought more pain than it was worth.

Machine Learning
The Seek & Find Game in the app was one of the top favorites during playtesting. The story was around helping our special mail bird find all his things before he could go to work. The camera uses ML to determine what the child is looking at. The magnifying glass helps children target the object, and flashes red/green on successes and failures with added visuals and sfx. The hardest part about this activity was finding common objects families have in the home, that a child ages 2-5 would recognize, AND would work with our ML recognition patterns. Why is there a toilet you ask? Well.. honestly it's one of the better triggers for ML, and potty humor is funny for kids. I still stand by this choice of object for our game.

Project Basics

  • Duration: Alpha: Nov 2018 - Jan 2019; Beta: April 2019 - July 2019
  • What I did: Design & Product Strategy, User Research, Full UI/UX Design, Animation, Game UX & Design, Asset Production & Developer Collaborations - iOS & Android, Content Creation/Ideation, Product Demos
  • Programs Used: Figma, After Effects, Illustrator

One of the favorite moments was a parent telling me during an in home test, that she was so excited that a digital app could get them up and moving around the house.

Animations from Mail

Letter Triggers & Narrative Stories I animated for the Mail App content.