London digital firm Sennep has collaborated with animation studio Animade and creative technologists BitStudio to create a playful augmented-reality app experience by Google HK to bring “joy and positivity to the citizens” of Hong Kong.

Called HO JENG AR, the app introduces six iconic Hong Kong-inspired characters, created by Animade, and brought to life for people to interact with as they explore the city. With elements of gamification, it encourages users to scan key cultural objects on their phones, unlock and interact with the playful characters, collect ‘Joy Points’ and get surprise rewards, special offers and discounts as they move around.

A virtual host, Lenni, introduces the app’s story and uses machine learning to analyse shapes in its viewfinder, nudging people in the right direction and getting more excited as they hone in on the correct object. When an item is recognised, an animated character is unlocked. Each one can be placed, scaled and rotated, ready for some virtual fun and games.

“We loved the brief to spread smiles and positivity in Hong Kong,” says Matt Rice, creative director at Sennep. “Working with Animade’s delightful characters and imagining an interface that would complement their design and allow users to play with them, create scenes and share, was a real treat.

“AR also gave us the opportunity to blend the digital and physical worlds. By rewarding users with points to buy virtual skins or unlock real-world offers from community partners, we tapped into both worlds to reconnect people with the delights of Hong Kong.”

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