The Danish LEGO toy company initiated a strategy of implementing digital 3D models throughout their entire business model, from the design up. In collaboration with the LEGO Company, we pursued the potential of using the digital 3D models and animations for promotional purposes in a retail setting.
In furtherance of our interest in researching joining physical artifacts with digital properties, and a specific interest in uses of digital technology for designing engaging marketing experiences, we developed an interactive table. On the interactive tabletop were two sets of boxes, each with a small and a large Bionicle figure, each of which was furnished with a fiducial marker on the underside of its base, making it possible for the interaction with the corresponding virtual figures in a 3D world to be viewed on a monitor. The design offers three basic kinds of interactions, based on picking up one or more of the Bionicle boxes. First, it is possible to put a box on the interaction surface, and have the corresponding digital 3D model appear; you can turn it, and move it over the table surface, and the digital 3D model behaves in a similar way on the display. Second, if you move a red Bionicle close to a green Bionicle (or vice versa) they start fighting. Third, if the base of a small Bionicle box joins the base of the Bionicle of the same color, the digital 3D model of the small figure jumps on the back of the big figure.
The table was tested in a toy department for a period of four weeks, and based on a detailed analysis of the ways the table was used on a single day, we identified 94 interactions, ranging from six seconds to twenty-five minutes in length, some interactions overlapping. A total of 124 people were observed interacting with the table, and the distribution of gender and age indicates that a wide variety of people engaged in the interaction, though most were boys under sixteen years of age. The observations clearly show that the table was successful in attracting people to use it, and to explore the characters coming out of the Bionicle box.