Backseat Driver: Intimate Interaction between Kids and Parents

Recently I have been researching some automotive apps on the market for another final project from class, COM597: Interactive Design. The practical functions of current  automotive apps include educational tutorials, driving logs, gas finders for cheap gas, repair estimates, finding a mechanic near you and tracking personal or business mileage any time with log applications. Since I don’t drive, I am not a huge fan downloading those apps. However, I am really impressed by one unique concept of an app called” Backseat Driver”. This iPhone application is introduced by Toyota, which allows users to enjoy driving from the back seat of their car.

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How the app works is the player—it is designed for the kids— controls the app following the driver. The moves mirror the route of the real car in which the player is riding by GPS functionality but the scenes are created like animated cartoons. By steering left and right on the app, users follow the driver’s car path and pick up and collective items such as pencils or paperclips. Users can gain points by collecting the items, landmark icons of shops and facilities that are from the real maps. After gaining some points, they are able to customize their car with own designs. Besides, the route they took will be saved automatically for looking over. Having fun alone is not enough, the designs of the car and the saved route can be shared via the User’s Twitter.

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The app targets kids who are not able to drive and builds an intimate interaction with the drivers. Their marketing strategy reminds me when I interviewed the car buyers for my final project and some of them mentioned when picking a car, they are influenced by the brand preferences of their family. Also, some brand images have already deeply rooted in their hearts. Therefore, apps like “Backseat Driver” definitely offer passengers a new way to enjoy driving and increase their brand favorability.

How to Motivate Retailer Shoppers with QR Codes

QR code is a kind of a gateway connecting a digital world and a true life via mobile devices. Though nowadays more and more people believe QR code is going to die out or be replaced by other cutting-edge techniques, marketers still put so much effort into encouraging customers to scan the QR code. Last week Kelly showed us some giant QR code from the slide which tried to catch customers’ eyes. In fact, not only the size matters, I find a QR code campaign impressively initiating conversation by a novel experiencing of a 3D QR code created by sun and its shadow.

The case is E-MART, the largest retail chain in Korea, recently launched a QR code campaign called” Sunny Sale”. The company realized there was a sales gap during weekday lunch time. We might take this phenomenon for granted but the marketers came up with the idea of giving people a unique lunch shopping experience to increase sales during the period.
擷取1E-MART launched 3D QR code sculpture only readable from 12:00pm to 1:00pm, due to the position of the sunlight and shadow. E-MART expanded a concept of QR code from digital 2D image which is composed of 0 and 1 to analog 3D figure as an artwork which has width, height and depth. The unique time limit restricting chance to participate per day quickly brings the attention to many people. The campaign gives an added scarcity value to participants making obtaining the benefits more attractive. Consumers who scanned the QR Code were directed to the E-MART online store and received $12 coupons for products to be delivered in their homes. This action expanded to 36 locations in Seoul, increased the number of members by 58%, and led to a 25% increase in sales during the lunch hour.

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So, what’s the reason the sun plays a key role in the campaign? According to the marketers from this campaign, they indicates that sun uses that time to direct to the location, and represents positive meanings such as happiness, and hope for the brand. The campaign definitely brings positive thinking about E-MART and their brand to potential and original customers through experiencing a novel QR code created by sun and its shadow. Since this campaign was so creative and successful, it won 5 Lions at the Cannes Lions 2012, 2 prizes at London International Awards and 7 prizes at Spikes Asia 2012.

Why Should We Think about Mobile Security?

I complained to my friend that my phone is getting slow and crashing easily whenever I use some apps these days. “Hmmm…Have you tried an antivirus software on your phone?” she said. My mobile device should have Security Software? This is a totally new concept for me. An antivirus protection and firewalls have become necessary standard-issue software for our home, business computers and personal laptop. Mobile phones have more and more powerful hardware and the overall function almost matches the computer’s. We web surf, download, check e-mail and make online purchases on our phone.

However, the concept of antivirus protection is still not widespread. Our smartphone pretty much contains vital personal and business information, so we should consider mobile security software as the new standard to avoid smartphone from mobile threats. According to TopTenREVIEWS: 2013 Best Mobile Security Software Comparisons and Reviews,

A mobile virus can drain a phone’s battery, delete personal and business information, and even cause certain features to be completely nonfunctional. Not only can a virus disable functions on your phone, but other forms of malware may also send infected files to your contacts, send mass messages without permission, make expensive calls resulting in unwarranted billing, and turn your mobile device into a recorder or even a camera, taking pictures wherever you go and displaying them online ( TopTenREVIEWS, 2013).

This warning shows how we should emphasize the mobile security. Also, there should be a way to prevent crises if we carelessly leave our phone in a taxi, shopping mall or a restaurant. The best mobile security applications should give you the ability to lock phone and SIM card remotely, wipe important information from memory card and activate phone’s built-in GPS chip to locate a lost or stolen device. With the right software solution, users don’t have to sacrifice security for mobility.

Lastly, with the limited resources and small size of mobile phones, it is especially important that the design of mobile security software is straightforward and easy to navigate. Here I recommend LINE Antivirus with clear interface and cute icons surprising users when the software scans your system.

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Another interesting usage of 2D Code

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Most of our experience of 2D Code is

l   Step1: Open 2D Code Scanner

l   Step2: Stabilize your hands and scan the 2D Code from the posters, magazines or brochures

l   Step3: Follow the link to a website, watch a video or trailer

2D Codes only bring people to the web page and then leave them there, so that’s where business falls short. However, it is more like extension of the advertisements or marketing campaigns. The book “Go Mobile” mentions that “ Don’t run 2D Code program in isolation. If you integrate the promotion with other marketing campaigns, the result will improve.”

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I found that JC Penney, the US department store chain, has come up with an ingenious use for QR Codes called “Who’s Your Santa” campaign, in last Christmas. JC Penney invited customers to personalize their Christmas giving with the use of 2D tags and mobile phone technology. When purchasing in JC Penny, consumers get a “Santa Tag” in the form of 2D Codes and enable so record a personalized gift message for each of their gifts. Attaching 2D Codes to gifts allows givers to record a 60-second message. The gift receivers scan the 2D Code on the gift and listen to the blessing message. At the same time, the codes enable the user to reply with a thank you note to the giver.

In fact, customers can complete the same process through e-mail or voice message instead of 2D Code. However, the process would be lack of the instant feeling of gifts being on hand and listening to the wish immediately. It is a small creativity but it breaks through the application of 2D Code for just accessing the website. The novel campaign is able to interact with the customers and improves the impression of JC Penney.

Fog of World: Turning your travel into a game

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Usually people travel with smartphone aims to check locations or search the route. However, there is an app completes your travel experience more than those functions.

Two Taiwanese developers came up the idea about an app remembering everywhere users have been in their whole life journey and tuning the experience into a game. That is, an app documentaries the route where you have been. My college classmate from Taiwan visited me last Friday. When she arrived in Seattle, she could not wait to open the app “Fog of World” excitedly. The concept of this app is about imagining a world covered in fog which is not completely and totally explored yet. The app keeps on track while users exploring new place. As they go to new places, the map gets clearer. It sounds like the GPS on your mobile device but more than current navigation. In fact, there are a number of apps that show you where you went on a given day or trip.

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“Fog of World” changes the user experience. The unique point is turns the documentation into a game. It uses the similar idea from games like covering an opponent ’s alignment until users get in range and applies it to the real world. The entire globe is covered in fog, and users slowly uncover it as they traveling with their smartphone. The interface is neat to see users’ path etched into the fog, and the app takes it a step further with achievements and percentage trackers as you keep uncovering fog. Users can also import the tracking as files through iTunes and Dropbox, sync and backup exploration data through Dropbox account.

Some users consider it would be more attractive if this app has more functions. They expect it integrates with Foursquare and has geotag access from photos or being able to leave message and interacts with other travelers. On the other hand, some users think more function make this app more complicities and lose the original features. No matter what, the app definitely makes traveling experience much fun and motivated.

Right now the app is mainly promoted by social media. There are 50% official website visitors from Twitter. Usually if developers are not well-known, it would be hard for them to get advertisements or cooperation in the beginning. For “Fog of World” developers, they do not worry too much about that. They believe that a fun app is able to create conversation and makes users want to share is already a successful begin.

LINE: A Mobile Platform for Everything

First week I had a brief introduction of my three messaging Apps, Whatsapp, LINE and WeChat. LINE is the App users can make free voice calls and send free messages. I have been paying attention on LINE’s developments because it provides unique and interesting approaches. Right now NHN Japan ‘s strategy for LINE is building a platform for games, music, books, news, and social networking. Apparently, LINE positioned itself as a mobile platform for everything. NHN Japan Corporation has grown its free LINE application into one of the world’s most talked-about apps. Is it going to be a mobile version of Facebook?

Compared with Facebook, LINE concentrates on the need of mobile users and enables them to connect with each other anytime and every time. The biggest difference from Facebook is the design of LINE all focusing on the mobile users in mind. NHN Japan says that LINE’s strategy is focused on growth rather than profit. I consider their business goal is like the beginning of Amazon, the priority is attracting users rely on their platform

Compared to other messaging apps strategies, one thing unique to LINE is their service surrounded by animate characters and other stickers. The stickers are known for its cute and oversized animated chat emoticons  Characters like Moon, Brown, Cony and James have swept the Japanese and Taiwanese market. Users can include the stickers in their chat messages, pictures and also social games. According to techcrunch.com, NHN hasn’t released recent numbers on the app’s financial performance, but in July, consumers spend $3.75 million per month in sticker sales.

Since the Line animated characters become the money tree, LINE even made online animation and real spin-off products keep attracting users. 

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Another example is “LINE POP”, an official mobile game made up by LINE animated characters. The simple game aims to get rid of blocks with abundant characters’ expressions. Users can even play with their LINE friends and receive the hearts needed to play and compete for higher rankings.

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LINE keeps extending the potential of mobile services such as “LINE manga”, which collaborates with more than 50 Japanese publishers as e-comic book reading services. Users can read almost 30,000 comic books throughLINE and download stickers from the comic book characters. Furthermore, they can recommend comic books to their LINE friends. I consider this service not only strengthens LINE’s social networking also bring a new wind to Japanese printed publishers.

IKEA Interactive Catalog App with Augmented Reality Brings the Pages to Real Life


Before what I heard Augmented Reality applied to mobile are almost about one-time marketing campaigns. The innovative and realistic playing experience attracts customer’s attention and brings the brand awareness. However, I wonder if there is more useful function can bring to customer’s real life. After searching, I found the IKEA catalog App. IKEA’s printed catalog with a great display of smart, innovative and stylish design furniture at affordable prices always brings me very enjoyable reading experience. Released on 2012, IKEA Interactive catalog App let you find some extra information moving your smartphone around the relevant page by scanning the catalog and experiencing more. I consider this app is a head-first dive into image recognition featuring augmented reality.

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Here is the update introduction of IKEA catalog App function on Google play, “By scanning selected pages in the printed catalogue you will be able to access additional images, films, and 3D models. Just look for the pages in the printed IKEA Catalogue 2013 that have the smart phone icon on the top right corner. Note that you need to scan the whole page, the symbol itself is not enough to recognize a page and get the extra content.”

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Every Augmented Reality varies by different effects. For example, the app shows a video displaying how soft the bed you selected is, or takes a look at closet or bookshelf from varied perspectives. Besides, users can even take a picture of their home and drag the IKEA furniture into the photo to see if it is a good fit and share the pictures to others. “A lot digital stuff becomes very interesting when you mash it up with the tangible items of the real world,” said Andreas Dahlqvist, Global Deputy Chief Creative Officer of McCann, the creative agency behind the IKEA catalog App.

My friend who used to scan the printed IKEA catalog in 5 to 10 minutes now play around the functions in an hour and strengthens the desire to buy the products.

Overall, the App is a breath of fresh air for me though it could be better for some improvements. First, it ran out of my storage space easily. The app itself is 14MB. Browsing the catalog takes another 53 MB of data. Not mentioned there is another kitchen catalog also takes space. Second, this app is slow-loading. My phone is crashed and being forced to close almost every time. If the developers can fix those problems, I am sure it will get more popular. This app is definitely a nice move for the possibility of catalog. I consider right now lots of printed magazines and catalogs have electronic version but it still stays the one-way communication step lacking of interaction.

Battle of Messaging Apps

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Messaging apps with varieties of features beyond text messaging are emerging as popular social networks among people around the world. For me, I have three messaging apps in my Smartphone which are Whatsapp, Line and Wechat since 2011. Whatsapp used to be the leading messaging application. It’s simple and easy to use as a new beginner. In Taiwan, unlimited text message plan compared to data plan is not very popular and economic so Whatsapp, as a free messaging app, turned out to occupy the market. But these years I stopped using Whatsapp since there hasn’t any innovation compared to other messaging apps. Besides, most of my Taiwanese and international friends moved to other messaging apps. I consider it is a good chance to reflect those messaging apps and make a general comparison of features and popularization.

Line

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Line has been available in Taiwan since August 2012. It is made by Naver Japan and known for its cute and oversized animated chat emotions. Characters like Moon, Brown, Cony and James have swept the Japanese and Taiwanese market no matter online or offline. Obviously, their strategy is targeting on Female’s market. Recently it has formally launched media campaigns employing celebrity spokespersons in Taiwan. Those big-budget integrated media campaigns are trying to create more awareness. In addition to the aesthetic design, LINE has advantage allowing you to reply to messages by installing a PC or Mac OS program, providing users registering number with an email account and making free online calling.

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WeChat is the most popular messaging apps in China and definitely as LINE’s top competitor in Asian market. Recently they also have launched mobile campaign and employed celebrity as spokespersons in Taiwan’s market. This social app gathers all of your sharing and communication tools in one place, including video calls, text messages, and images. WeChat is well-known for some innovative social features like letting users look around for other WeChat users to chat with, or browse their own contacts by shaking their phone. If users are concerned about personal privacy, there are ample settings menus for updating WeChat profile and adjusting privacy settings. One function called Drift bottle, I personally am not interested in but apparently it is a fresh way to make new friends randomly. When users select “Throw” to send out voice or text message, they wait and see if anyone picks up their bottle and replies for further relationship. Users can also choose to reply for it or throw it back to the sea.

According to statista.com, LINE has 120 million users and Tencent, a Chinese investment holding company, announced that the total number of WeChat users had reached 300 million, including over 10 million overseas users. Whatsapp, LINE, WeChat all have simple interfaces and group chat functions. I believe different users from business professionals to teenage might value differently using the messaging apps such as battery draining, social networking and quality of free online calling. Challenges for LINE and WeChat dominating markets might be ensuring a high percentage of monthly active users and identifying revenue streams in their platforms. Since this two messaging apps are free, I am interested in how they truly find returns on their investment and will continue to introduce it in the following posts.