Designing for analogue and digital

How the creative process changes when working with augmented reality

Our first book, Time Tub Twins, can be read from start-to-finish as a normal book, or enhanced with AR scenarios via our app

Augmented Reality (AR) is hard. This industry has a history of companies who have tried, and failed, to enrich their content through AR. It was very important to us that if we were to use AR, we would focus on what we believe to be its key quality.

A natural way to engage with the content by allowing the user to view it in the way that feels most comfortable to them.

Technology has revolutionised how we tell stories, both in portraying our real world and imaginary ones, and it’s time for AR to join this revolution. AR makes possible the creation of a new medium for interactive storytelling that combines the best of physical and digital worlds. And who better to enjoy it than children? They are digital natives and a screen feels as natural to them as a book.

Designing for both analogue and digital worlds and bridging that divide between can be challenging. How do we take a book — a finished physical product, and naturally linear — and add to it an element of interactivity? But given the young age of the audience of our book, the amount of times this book was going to be read, there needed to be an added “replay” factor, especially as books compete so heavily with screen time from tablets and television.

Our heroes, the Time Tub Twins

The Time Tub Twins began life as a standard lift-the-flap book about a gifted child able to build brilliant inventions, but it was missing something. The themes the book focuses around: creativity, invention, science — made it perfect for innovation through AR. What if we could make the reader decide what invention to make? What if they could decide what characters they meet? Thinking about producing content for AR suddenly opened up a whole new world of storytelling possibilities.

Rather than giving the reader a passive spectator role, our AR-enhanced book offers to the reader a more dynamic and sensory experience than a normal book. In our AR book the normal storytelling becomes fully interactive and it’s enriched with games, animations and sounds that enable the reader to participate actively in it.

Early character design sketches 

Not only is the product far more entertaining and stimulating, it’s also a more rewarding process to create as it makes us think in different ways. In a normal book, identification with the characters and story takes place mainly in the reader’s imagination. Feelings are conveyed by the illustrations and the text. This, when compared to what our AR book can offer, it’s a static experience.

We design all of our AR content to be 3D, allowing it to be viewed from any angle. This means when one of our characters runs across the page, the user can follow along from any angle, in a way that feels more natural to them. This creates a more engaging and realistic experience for the user, creating the impression that the book has come to life.

For us, the difference is like traditional art and modern art. Contemplating a painting is a very different experience to interacting with a contemporary installation. They both tell a story, but convey different emotions, meanings and stimulate the senses in different ways. One thing is not better than the other, just different. And the same can be said between a traditional book and our books.

Technology has revolutionised how we tell stories, both in portraying our real world and imaginary ones. By creating a new medium for interactive storytelling we’re combining the best of both worlds. And who better to enjoy it than children?

Our first book, Time Tub Twins, is currently available for pre-order on Indiegogo.