Sennep and Animade spread digital joy across Hong Kong in new app

Purposefully built to unlock moments of joy as users journey around Hong Kong, Ho Jeng AR encourages “people to rediscover the everyday magic of the city”.

18 December 2020


Just as we edge towards the end of 2020 (and all this year has brought with it) Google Hong Kong is launching a last animated attempt to lift our collective spirits. Working together with London-based digital product studio Sennep, in collaboration with animation studio Animade and creative technologists BitStudio, the collaboration results in a playful AR app all “to bring joy and positivity to the citizens of Hong Kong,” explains a press release on the project.

Purposefully designed to spread positivity “after a turbulent year in Hong Kong and around the world,” the Ho Jeng AR app is part of a wider Share Joy campaign “to encourage people to rediscover the everyday magic of the city and create and share joyful moments.” With this in mind, the app uses augmented-reality to introduce six Hong Kong-inspired characters for users to interact with while they explore the city. The user experience and interface of the app, designed by Sennep, features elements of gamification and encourages users to scan key cultural objects, unlock and interact with the characters, as well as collect “Joy Points” to receive surprise rewards, special offers and discounts while on the go.


Sennep and Animade: Ho Jeng AR app for Google Hong Kong (Copyright © Google HK, 2020)

This experience is led by a virtual host, named Lenni, who introduced the story and features machine learning to analyse shapes it spots in the viewfinder. This allows Lenni to nudge people in certain directions, unlocking more opportunities. Then, once an item is recognised, another animated character is unlocked which can then be placed, scaled and rotated, “ready for some virtual fun and games”.

Creative director at Sennep, Matt Rice, adds: “We loved the brief to spread smiles and positivity in Hong Kong. Working with Animade’s delightful characters and imagining an interface that would compliment their design and allow users to play with them, create scenes and share, was a real treat.” Further explaining that the team’s overall goal was to “add playfulness to every touchpoint off the interface, down to the smallest detail,” meaning there’s plenty to explore while in the app. For Tom Judd, Animade’s founding director, a brief such as this “was a dream project for Animade – a brief that focused on spreading joy, with character at the very heart of it all.” And finally, for Leonie Valentine from Google Hong Kong, it’s a thrill to create a project which appreciates “the beauty of Hong Kong,” while simultaneously spreading “positivity and boost the wellbeing of family and friends.”

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Sennep and Animade: Ho Jeng AR app for Google Hong Kong (Copyright © Google HK, 2020)

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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