From early 2012 to mid-2013, I worked with USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab and The Alchemists on creating transmedia learning extensions from David Wiesner’s Caldecott Award-winning children’s book, Flotsam. The Flotsam project was a prototype to explore the commercial possibilities of transmedia play by expanding the story of Flotsam into an educational platform for kids aged 7-10.
I first began working on the Flotsam project with the Annenberg Innovation Lab in late Fall 2011. I was brought on due to my work with stereoscopic 3D because the production team wanted to incorporate optics and alternative perspectives on the world. Part of this line of thinking evolved into physical Explorer Kits that would connect into the transmedia world of Flotsam. The idea was that each Explorer Kit would focus on one kind of Lens (magnifying glass, telescope, microscope, etc.) and that the kits would be sold as themed toys or subscription boxes, each exploring a different aspect of the Flotsam universe. As a tie-in to the eBook version we were building, a digital avatar of the Explorer Kit would appear in the eBook so educational activities that involved both the physical and the digital could be set up and cross-pollinated between the two transmedia extensions.
I worked to build a prototype version of this Explorer Kit, filling it with materials (including an Explorer’s Journal that was both full of educational prompts and blank pages for the user to fill in on their own) which would encourage a young explorer in their backyard or on vacation at the beach. By the time we reached the next phase of the project, however, we realized that the Explorer Kits required some partnership with an individual or group (or manufacturer) whose core competencies more closely aligned with toy creation.
In this next phase of the project, I shifted my focus and designed the UI/UX for the dynamic eBook version (iPad), co-designed an AR-enabled Trading Card game (using early versions of Qualcomm’s Vuforia software), as did some associate producing on the project. Sadly, the Flotsam project never got past the prototype phase and was abandoned.