Iona was asked to help GROWMARK increase one-on-one contacts with their customers at the 2011 Farm Progress Show. To do this, we partnered with GROWMARK to develop an interactive gaming strategy that was entertaining and engaging. GROWMARK provides customers with the inputs they need to be successful in their operations. Their divisions work together to provide member-owners and customers with not only the products they know and trust, but also the means to deliver, market, and store those products.
I had the privilege of working as the lead designer on the team. The end product was really well received at the show and pushed the boundaries of interactive design and development at Iona.
After meetings with GROWMARK staff and determining the goals for this experience, Iona developed written user case concepts for possible development. From the concepts, GROWMARK staff selected the one that was entitled Yield Maximizer. This concept was an interactive game that had an appealing physical interface with an immediate visual WOW factor – how is that happening?. This concept combined the physical nature of an iPad into a game involving FS products. This was achieved by transferring images from an iPad to a touchscreen interactive. Animation, sound effects and music helped create a gaming feel.
There were a total of four interactives that focused on GROWMARK’s main branding products: seed, grain systems, energy and agronomy.
The video for the seed interactive can be found here:
invited users to envision themselves as farmers. A user walked up to a large, touchscreen monitor that showed a patch of fertile land and the growing conditions in that field. Next to the monitor was an FS bag that had an iPad embedded onto the surface. The user then saw a question that related to the field conditions and asked them how to best maximize their yield based upon the given conditions. The user had to choose a seed product that best answered the question on the touchscreen. After selecting which product would work best, the user was prompted to pour the seed out of the bag. When the user picked up the physical bag to begin pouring, they saw the seed pouring from the iPad onto the touchscreen monitor. The seed looked as though it was raining down from the top of the touchscreen. Depending upon the seed choice, the conditions provided, and how fast the user poured the seed, their score was calculated. The user’s score corresponded to how tall their field appeared on screen. Users could post their scores to a leaderboard at the end of the game, which created a fun, competitive environment.
The remaining interactives were very similar in the user experience. This made the game play friendly and understandable as the player moved from interactive to interactive.
For the agronomy interactive, the user drove an applicator that sprayed either pests or weeds in the field. The material used was chosen based upon the prompted question and field conditions.
The energy interactive had an iPad attached to an FS jug for lubricants. The user had to fill a tank by pouring the liquid out of the jug with accuracy. The liquid choice was based upon a question posed to the user on the touchscreen monitor. When the user picked up the jug to begin pouring, they saw the liquid pouring from the iPad onto the touchscreen monitor. The liquid looked as though it was falling down from the top of the touchscreen into a reservoir.
Lastly, the grain interactive allowed the user to physically move a knife gate that had an iPad attached to the front. Once the gate door was lifted, the user saw a touchscreen monitor behind the inside of the gate. The user had to answer questions on how to properly dry and store grain. . The interface opened and closed with the knife gate, mimicking the concept a slot machine pull. Once the user answered the question, the seed fell from the inside monitor and provided the user with a score.
Just like any project at Iona, we followed our 4D Process. During the Define phase, we created sketches, determined the goals and objectives of the project, identified the desired learning and experience outcomes, recognized the target audiences, and determined the functional and technical requirements. During the Design phase, wireframes, node maps, sketches, the graphical user interfaces and the system architecture were created. There was also a lot of animation created during the Design phase of the project. The animations and visual style were very fun, energetic and rich in their graphical look and feel. Iona worked closely with Growmark to illustrate all of the elements in the interactive such as the crops, pests, products and machines.
We worked with the client to integrate the software and hardware on site so that during the Development Phase of the project, we were working with the actual final hardware needed for the final output of the project.
Adobe Flash was the main platform for the interactives. The software running on the iPads was written in Objective-C using the cocos2d game engine with the box2d physics engine running under the hood. The iPads communicated with the computer using a socket over a WiFi network. During the Development Phase of the project, we conducted usability testing. We collated the feedback from the testing and created the appropriate revisions to the designs and programming efforts.
One of the unexpected developments at the Farm Progress Show was the extremely high level of wifi interference. We solved this problem by installing individual routers at each station.
As a designer, it is a thrill to see users enjoying and learning from your created product. This project combined interactivity and mobile devices in a fun and appealing way that allowed the client to advertise their product and have users learn about the product they provide. Most importantly, there was a noticeable increase in the one-on-one conversations following the game play. The visitors had fun and the level of engagement by young visitors was extremely high.
The following are photos of users with the interactive from the 2011 Farm Progress Show.