2359 Digital Lab is an internal initiative where ideas and concepts are created to test out new technology as well as push the boundaries for conceptual thinking and creative design.
With that in mind, our push to explore the digital and creative frontier has led us to attempt to create something special this Chinese New Year.
Singapore has a unique culture where a diversity of race and religion live in harmony and celebrate each other’s festivals. Chinese New Year is a festival that celebrates the first fifteen days of the Lunar Calendar. The festival is celebrated nationwide by the Chinese Singaporeans from the eve of Chinese New Year with “Reunion Dinners”, followed by visits from the first day of Chinese New Year for the next fifteen days.
Usually, almost immediately after Christmas, decorations for Chinese New Year would be put up. By January, malls would usually be playing the festive music to kick in the festive mood. Starting from a week before Chinese New Year, corporations would send out greeting cards by mail or email. Quirky greetings in the form of pictures, videos or GIFs were also often forwarded via WhatsApp and Telegram.
When we first looked at what we could possibly do, we thought of the prominent things that usually happen during Chinese New Year. Ang pows (red packets), gambling, family gatherings and exchanging lucky greetings with mandarin oranges were the things that came up. People particularly like sending WhatsApp messages to friends, families and co-workers with greetings a day or so before and until the first day of Chinese New Year — we thought this was something we could ride on to spread the festive mood even further.
Coming up with something that people would find useful has proved to be quite a huge challenge. A while back, 2359 created the Lou Hei app site that people could use and refer to when you had to Lou Hei — to say the lucky phrases when pouring the various ingredients into the ‘Yu Sheng’ or ‘Prosperity Toss’. This was such massive success that people still use it today during Chinese New Year.
Exploration with Innovation
We wanted to spread the mood and joy that came with this celebration. One of our first ideas was to create an app that people can send red packets to, but instead of money, people can shake to get randomised TOTO or 4D numbers.
However, though the idea sounded fun, we wanted the result of this project to be inclusive — not just for people over 18 years old. Also, we felt that a ‘number randomiser’ did not really push the boundaries of technology. What we were looking to explore, was the utilisation of the technology within mobile devices these days.
With that in mind, we came up with a few more ideas during the ideation process and narrowed down to one. During the process, we noticed a growing trend on facebook — 3D photos. The way 3D photos on facebook work is to capture the distance between the subject in the foreground and the background and bring it to life with depth and movement. The feature uses dual-camera photos to create the illusion of 3D, although only iPhone owners can access it at the moment.
We decided to create an app where it was viewable on any mobile device whether its iOS or Android, ensuring that no installation was needed for it to be viewed or used.
The user flow of the digital greeting was designed to make it easy for anyone who wanted to create their own digital greeting and share it with their loved ones. There was a list of greetings, background designs, as well as decorative elements to choose from. These were then compiled to create your very own personalised design for the user to send it to their friends and families.
From wireframes and sketches, the User Interface’s design progressed to what you see below. We made practical adjustments to the design to improve on the app’s user flow as we went along.
However, we encountered an issue where web browsers would play music only when the screen is tapped. So we had to work around the UI/UX where an ang pow would have to be tapped to open to reveal the greeting, with the result of having the music playing together with the greeting.
Another issue we faced was that Telegram Messenger had a problem on iOS where if viewed within the in-app browser, the sharing link to Telegram just would not work. In the end, we had to make the hard choice to remove the Telegram icon on iOS, only to allow people to copy the link directly and paste it within chats.
Within the short span of time of its release, the app was shared to users in South-East Asia, Japan, Australia and even the United Kingdom. The app release garnered largely positive comments and praises from its users with the highest number of users coming from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and the United States.
With this release by 2359 Digital Lab, we’re looking forward to experimenting even further with technology, creative concepts and design. Try it and have fun! 新年快乐! — http://cny19.2359media.com