I'm in a band. We're called Controller. We just put out a three-song EP. If you like raw, punky rock that you can sing along to, I think you'll dig it. Click the image to check it out:
lm/nl's latest project, Lazer Tag: AR, made in partnership with Hasbro and Shoot the Moon, is finally out in stores. (Well, it's been out since August.) It's an epic leap forward for connected toys: a 24-player, augmented reality first-person shooter.
For the gang at lm/nl, it represents even more.
We're a small group, obsessed with creating experiences that bridge the digital and physical worlds, and fundamentally impact the way we perceive and appreciate our environments. We tend to develop outsized concepts, the kind of thing the phrase 'pipe dream' was coined to describe. For better or worse, we often find ourselves following these pipe dreams to the ends of the Earth.
About two years ago, we had one of these ideas: to combine the world of butt-on-the-couch first-person shooter gaming with physical blasters and augmented reality, and produce an experience for the mass market. At this stage, we worked with our parent company to prototype and conceptualize a complete system facilitating connected toy/smartphone experiences. You can see the original prototype here:
We had every reason to believe that the experience itself would work, though you'd forgive me if I said getting this out to the mass market was far from a sure thing.
It took a bit of grinding and some false starts, but eventually and fortunately, we found receptive partners in Hasbro and Shoot the Moon, an innovative group that created and holds the rights to the original Lazer Tag IP, who had together been developing similar experiences.
And here we are. I'll follow up in a separate post to talk about our design philosophies and inspiration, but for now, it's just amazing to sit back and see Lazer Tag: AR out in the world, being talked about by the New York Times and named to Toys R Us' 2012 Hot Holiday List.
The current hardware, form factors, etc. are cumbersome. Community emphasis generally leans too hard on visual enhancement. Utility is often limited.
And yet I keep coming back to AR. In this case, an unplanned hallway conversation about the history and sales footprint of the Band-Aid brand led to one of the most emotional experiences I've had the pleasure of bringing to life: Band-Aid Magic Vision.
Band-Aid is one of the most powerful brands in the world, but not always in the ways that you'd expect.
For more than 90 years, the ritual of applying a Band-Aid to a child's first boo boo (or second or third or...) has been a foundational bonding moment for parent and child. A moment of healing. Of safeguarding.
The brand also sells more than four billion bandages every year, which in context is staggering. That's more than the total number of smartphones, gaming consoles, cable boxes combined. (A bandage is a lot cheaper than hardware, yeah.)
By rethinking Band-Aid's future as not just thin plastic, but rather, as a media platform - and coupling that vision with that magic moment, I came back to employing technology I've come to, well, not despise, but to feel... meh about.
In this case, though, something felt different. AR made sense.
Sharing mobile technology is a common behavior amongst parents and their children. And the fact that you'd have two people already bonding over the application of a bandage means you could avoid the typical, clumsy, 'hold your device up while trying to be aware of your surroundings' use case. One could set up the experience for the other - and together they could share in it.
So we made Band-Aid Magic Vision. A baby step towards a brand's eventual migration to media platform. And a rekindler of faith in AR, for me, anyway.