Week 8: Snail Mail


After some discussion around the design, we decided that pursuing the two sided option would not work smoothly because of the loss in payoff of some of the physical elements. While it is an interesting thought to try and get people to come in from the street to interact, the main goal is to get people in, not to have them experience it and leave without entering. It would also necessitate some awkward, far less than ideal interaction in full AR that would mess with the experience.

We’ve really been struggling to think of a way to end the experience in a solid way that connects back to the letter and the envelope. This week saw us slightly reframing our story to get a stronger, funnier end. The new set up is that the machine teaches ‘A Simple Way to Send a Letter through the Snail Mail”. Now at the end of the experience, a letter in an envelope will move into the mail box, from which will emerge a large snail. We’re leaning into the themes suggested by the rest of the machine that include elements which the target demographic of 9-14 might not typically be familiar with. Typewriters, fire bellows, and even physical mail are all things that they are less and less familiar with, outside of films and cartoons.


Using some inspiration from Rube Goldberg’s cartoons, as we did with the Ikklebird previously, we’ve created a model for the bees which will appear later in the interaction and have passed those off to be rigged for animation.

We’ve also generated the animation balloon inflating and lifting up the watering can, connecting these two models. These are now ready for implementation.


All of our implemented elements have been placed closer to their true positions in the machine to clean up some of the appearances and make everything look a little nicer. We’ve implemented all digital elements up until the flowers growing on our ‘plant’ at the end of the line.

We also carried out some experiments with lighting in ARENA to see if it would amplify the experience at all. Below is a demo of shadows being cast within our interaction.

On the ARENA side, we’ve been having some issues with objects moving in space in the time between scanning the AprilTag and rotating up to view the machine. This is helped by covering the camera lens while rotating, but us just a temporary fix. We’ve spoken to the ARENA team about this and a more permanent solution will be coming in the next few weeks hopefully.