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.

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.