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UL Drives Engagement With Interactive Demo at Toy Fair

Interactive Teddy Bear App Uses Augmented Realty to Drive Engagement

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UL, a product safety company, wanted to do something different to drive engagement with toy manufacturers at this year's Toy Fair in New York.

UL's interactive teddy bear demo
UL's interactive teddy bear demo

The company was founded in 1894 as Underwriters Laboratories to investigate "shock fires" that were started by faulty electrical wiring. Since then, it has expanded through acquisitions and organic growth to provide product safety, testing and certification for manufacturing, healthcare, toys and other industries.

"We've been participating in the Toy Fair for about 15 years, and the primary question we usually get is, 'Why is UL at a toy show?'" said Kim Vranas, marketing manager-consumer and retail services for UL.

"This year, our primary goal was to help people understand why UL was at the Toy Fair," she said. "We wanted to attract people to our booth to start to engage in more detailed conversations, and we were looking for something a little whimsical, fun and engaging."

So UL turned to digital agency Genuine to help it create an interactive experience that would help it stand out in the crowd.

"Our challenge was, what could we do with this busy space at the Toy Fair, as people were milling around and walking by, to attract their attention and help them take the next step to engage," said Christian Connolly, VP-experiential and video at Genuine.

So Genuine came up with the idea of an interactive application, using augmented reality technology that would project people's images onto a digital screen like a mirror when they walked by and superimpose "thought bubbles" over their heads with questions like "Why is UL at the Toy Fair?"

Visitors could touch the screen, which projected a 3-D image of a teddy bear that could be spun 360 degrees, with buttons people could touch to find out more about UL and how it helps toy manufacturers.

For example, a button on the bear's mouth answered questions about how UL ensures that toys meet safety criteria to prevent choking for the infant and preschool markets.

Other buttons provided information about different stages of the production cycle, safety checks and regulatory issues.

Once in the booth, visitors could talk to sales reps about UL and sign up for a mobile app that sends out news and alerts about toy manufacturing issues, regulatory issues and other industry news.

UL promoted the demo before the show through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

While it hasn't gotten official results back from the show, which ended Tuesday, "Overall, the feedback has been positive," Ms. Vranas said. "This has been a much more engaging show in terms of people coming into the booth and asking questions, and our reps are attributing that to the interactive demo."

Now UL is adapting the interactive demo for other industries it serves, such as jewelry and apparel.

"Next, we're shooting for ICPSHO (International Consumer Products Safety and Health Organization) in March," Ms. Vranas said.

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