Catnip 

An Augmented Reality Collection Game 

A student UX project in full collaboration with Michael Woody.

Time Frame

10 weeks

Role

UX design, Branding, Art direction, Copywriting, 3D modeling, 360 VR Video production

Tools

After Effects, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Sketch, Marvel, Adobe Xd, Cinema 4D

Transforming the urban streets into a game environment with augmented reality, Catnip takes you on a journey to find a new cat friend. Accruing catnip points as you explore your city, you use points to give gifts to each cat in your collection.

Our target user is looking for tools to incentivize getting outside, for activity that can distract them from stressors, and for relaxing ways to stay engaged and connected. Augmented reality, with its ability to create unexpected interactions, offers a unique medium to delight and entertain. 

Catnip has two primary functions: exploring the city to discover digital cat locations and playfully interacting with your collected cats. We explored both of these tasks with a clickable prototype, making design decisions based on user research, heuristics and testing.

When we approached creating a concept video, we wanted to convey the basic functions of the application while maintaining a clear picture of relaxed exploration. The ability to have access to further interactions with your gathered cats through the collections portion of the app is featured and shown in context.

The process of finding cats is designed for relaxed exploration. The finder view interface is minimal to best see the augmented reality waypoints. Added sound signals notify users that they have arrived at way points so they can put down their phone and enjoy the journey.

In order to convey the sense of 3D space that users would experience through their mobile device, I built out a rudimentary 360 video of a very short user journey. The video can be accessed on YouTube, and should be watched on a Google Carboard.

 

The orienting process to the application is done through a number of ways. Since we saw this as a unique type of app, we wanted to have a screen explaing the 2 core function: find and collections. We know that the slideshow style onboarding in general is not usually the most effective way of onboarding and so have also integrated in-context popups as well as auditory notifications.

Having easy opportunities to share delightful experiences is critical for our target user. Staying connected with community and having customizable, fun and distinctive images or items to share builds on the experience every time you use Catnip.

Having options for consistently available interactions is critical for being useful for our users struggling with mild anxiety and looking for tools to provide relief from stressors. Message branching interactions created with unique chatbots provides varied and ongoing experiences for de-stressing. User's collections offer a low-stress way to tap out and relax anywhere. 

The collections portion of the app allows users the ability to message the cats, utilizing message branching to create an evolving exprerience. Each cat has a unique individual personality which comes out in the interactions.

The initial design phase leads to some logical next steps. User testing the active task flow of the wayfinding journey is possible through a more fulle developed VR application. The rudimentary work done did result in some learning and feedback from users, but that could be expanded through a longer task flow and the ability to interact with your mobile in real time. 

Being able to test the collections portion would be significantly easier. Building out more fully the clickable prototype and doing testing would be ideal. Additionally, getting to talk with developers about the messaging function to assess and problem solve around its feasibility and viability. The project was dynamic, challenging, and provided a multitude of spaces to think about.