LEGO® is one of the world's largest toy manufacturers and children all over the world spend five billion* hours a year playing with LEGO. In addition to selling their products via leading retailers and partners, LEGO manages three sales channels:
- Retail Stores: 68 stores worldwide with 40+ million visitors per year
- Web: LEGO's website shop.lego.com with 17+ million visitors, with 15% from mobile devices
- Catalogs: Seven catalogs with a reach of 6+ million
LEGO was exploring ways to enable mobile experiences across these channels to integrate the customer shopping journey and drive higher engagement with their catalogs, with an objective of creating one true "omni channel." LEGO's partner, Quad/Graphics, a leading developer of mobile apps and experiences, recommended a few options to enable LEGO's "omni channel" vision, including:
- Augmented reality (AR): Fully animated, 360-degree 3D images of what a LEGO set would look like fully built all within the context of a story and soundtrack
- Image recognition: Links between images on catalog pages and video content like destinations, designer interviews and story-based content
- QR codes: Links between QR codes on catalog pages and the LEGO website (shop.lego.com) for product information, user reviews and assembly instructions
This experience would need to integrate with LEGO's existing portfolio of mobile apps and 3D animations used for in-store displays. LEGO's 3D models are complex requiring a mobile platform that could adapt to the complexity as well as enable these models across a broad range of mobile devices. In addition, the platform would need to enable rich, consistent, and predictable experiences across devices and real-world environments. LEGO anticipated that in addition to adults, children as young as seven years would use this app mandating the need for robustness and rapid 3D rendering given reduced steadiness and shorter attention spans.
Matt Kammerait, product manager for interactive print solutions at Quad/Graphics, led development of LEGO Connect app to deliver on LEGO's vision of the "integrated omni-channel". This app is powered by the Vuforia™ software platform for computer vision-based image recognition and supports a wide range of mobile devices on iOS and Android platforms. The three key components for the app include:
"We are amazed at the range of possibilities that Vuforia opened up for LEGO."
Senior Marketing Manager, Branded Retail Marketing
The LEGO Group
The Vuforia Advantage
LEGO and Quad/Graphics selected Vuforia as their choice for vision enablement of their mobile experiences based on the quality, consistency, and robustness of the Vuforia platform. LEGO and Quad/Graphics engaged the Vuforia team to learn about the industry's leading computer vision research that powers Vuforia as well as the robustness, quality, and consistency of experiences enabled by the Vuforia platform in real-life scenarios. They were impressed with the team's lab test results demonstrating robust, consistent, and predictable performance across shaking, jittering motions, image tracking, and lighting variations.
"We looked into both proprietary and open source alternatives for AR as we put together our app development platform" Matt Kammerait says. "For speed of recognition and content delivery, Vuforia was ahead of most other tools out there. When we needed to modify our app to recognize images on the high-density pages in the LEGO catalogs, we found the Vuforia development tools easy to use."
LEGO spent four months with Quad/Graphics developing the LEGO Connect app, then soft-launched it in January 2013 along with a catalog mailing. The LEGO Connect app is available on Google Play or the App Store. As consumers peruse the print catalog, wherever they see the LEGO Connect icon, they can point their device at the printed page to get related content for the LEGO set displayed, including product information, 3D assembled model, reviews, and a link to purchase it.
LEGO is pleased that the LEGO Connect app exceeded expectations and brought the vision of "Omni Channel" to life. In addition to higher than expected downloads, LEGO sees 24,000 return users that spend between four to ten minutes interacting with this app. This app has received solidly positive feedback from LEGO's customers, earning a Google Play rating of 4.5 of 5 stars.
LEGO was impressed by its experiences working with the Vuforia platform. Jordan Childs, senior marketing manager, branded retail marketing, at LEGO said: "We are amazed at the range of possibilities that Vuforia opened up for LEGO. We will continue to focus on creating compelling content in order to take advantage of all the creative possibilities Vuforia gives us with mobile AR."
In addition, this app transformed the in-home shopping experience for LEGO. Matt Kammerait said: "The biggest advantage of AR and Vuforia has been that shoppers can enjoy our animated 3D models right in their living room. That's allowed us to link our channels by putting our existing 3D content at a new point of engagement in addition to our stores and special events."