Posts

Mimi Cross Interview – Author of the Crankamacallit iPad app


In this interview, Mimi Cross, author of the recently released Crankamacallit iPad app, talks about her experience in creating an interactive children’s story in this new medium.

[box type=”bio”]

  • The interview was designed in an appreciative inquiry format,and conducted by Robyn Stratton.
  • Music by Mimi Cross and Kevin Salem
  • [/box]

    Please note we’ve just posted the Crankamacallit Demo Reel

    [button id =”vid1″ link=”http://polymash.com/crankamacallit”]The Crankamacallit Home Page[/button]

    Press Release: Crankamacallit iPad app takes risks in interactive story telling

    Some context about risk-taking

    The press release (full text here) has been met with a lot of buzz on Twitter and a number of review sites.

    [button size=’small’ color=’black’ link=’http://www.polymash.com/app/the-crankamacallit-ipad-apps-for-kids/’]Visit the Crankamcallit Home Page[/button]

    At Polymash we feel the Crankamacallit is interactive story-telling with a difference, and I wanted to provide a little context as to why and elaborate a bit more on the following part of the release:

    This iPad app for kids takes some risks that set it apart from most children’s stories. The developer took a page out of game design by utilizing a first person perspective in interactivity, animation and illustration. Interactive elements are intentionally not highlighted nor easy to find. User testing feedback revealed kids “get it” and show their parents the functionality, not the other way around. Another risk was to use the recently released Adobe CS5.5 Digital Publishing Suite platform for a children’s book, and to extend its core functions with HTML5 and JavaScript coding. The developer participated in the alpha and beta testing for Adobe beginning in the summer of 2010, and with this app shows that the platform can be used for much more than just the digital magazines it was created for.

    The buzz about iPad usability

    I  come from a corporate IT background in user experience and usability engineering. And recent buzz complains about the lack of usability  standards on the iPad (based on a report by the Nielsen Norman Group, an authority in the field) Here is an example on the Huffington Post referring to this study. They point out that because of a lack of standard user interfaces for the Pad, interactive elements and the overall user experience is  not always obvious and predictable.

    So, can “lack of usability standards” ever be a good thing?

    iPad app for kids - crankamacallitWhile this lack may be a frustration to grown ups, our own usability studies have shown that for kids this has not been an issue.

    Why? My theory is that unlike grown-ups, kid’s egos are not as involved or hurt by having to explore and hunt for functionality, and they delight in figuring it out. We’ve often witnessed grown ups pick up an iPad for the first time with a sense of trepidation and fear of not quite knowing how to use it, but kids immediately start to experiment and play. And I think as grown ups start to understand the device, they too delight in their “discoveries”.  To me, this sense of discovery creates much deeper engagement, and the many brilliant app designs unencumbered by any usability standards illustrate the magic of the iPad.

    So I for one do not necessarily look forward to seeing universal iPad usability standards develop. So unlike many kid’s apps we see, for our interactive children’s story we have intentionally not been too obvious about brightly highlighting interactive regions, providing instructions or hints. Our testing with kids proved that they “get it” and are able to show functionality of the app to their parents, not the other way around.

    Here’s a grown up’s (unsolicited) review on iTunes that illustrates the point:

    “The first time I went through this book on my iPad I missed 90% of it and I thought, “well, this is pretty lame”. Then my 3 year old daughter got ahold of it and showed me what was possible. Even without having seen the rest of it, what I did see initially was visually stunning. The rest of it just made it worth the $5. It’s not a book of puzzles, it’s a book that tells a story (obviously), and invites you to explore the world created so cleverly by the graphic artist. Don’t leave a single stone unturned when you go through the book, or, give it to your 3 year old and sit back and be amazed. “

    It’s the Crankamacallit!

    We’re super excited to announce that our next iPad app has launched! The Crankamacallit is an interactive children’s book chock full of interactive features, discoveries, sounds, animations, 360 degree panoramas, mini games and more. I think it’s a doozie! Part poem, part story, this 3D fantasy was written by Mimi Cross, and wonderfully narrated by Robert Burke Warren (AKA “Uncle Rock”)

    Come visit the Crankamacallit page, see our gallery, or check out the developing posts.

    The Crankamacallit – an interactive story iPad app for kids

    An interactive children’s story about building an imaginary vehicle, “The Crankamacallit” is filled with stunning interactive animation and surprising sounds.

    Using playful, rhythmic language and rhyme “The Crankamacallit” draws the user into the fantastic 3D world of an inventor’s workshop.

    A great iPad app for kids, who  love all the unpredictable moving parts of “The Crankamacallit”. In an adventurous tale for the picture book crowd, 3-8 year olds (and their parents!) will be mesmerized by the step-by-step process of the Crankamacallit’s creation and become active participants in the story by using the many interactive features, making unexpected discoveries, exploring 360-degree panoramas, using the hidden drawing tool and more.

    Part poem, part story, this rhythmic 3D fantasy was written by Mimi Cross, animated by Juergen Berkessel and narrated by acclaimed singer songwriter Robert Burke Warren, aka “Uncle Rock”.Listeners will laugh out loud at the nuances of Warren’s performance.

    Features

    • Unique 3D artwork and unusual illustrations
    • Music and mechanical sounds
    • Animation and video
    • 360 degree panoramas
    • 3D interactive rotational objects
    • Pan and zoom chart
    • A hidden picture scratch off scene
    • Drawing widget
    • “Secret” hotspots

    Come visit our gallery to get a taste, check out the developing posts, and watch out for a number of related announcements in the coming days.

    Today I will build you a Crankamacallit

    With pieces and parts from my carpenter’s kit.

    With buttons and levers and yes, of course—CRANKS!

    With switches and gears and an old baseball mitt.

    The Crankacmacallit Title Page

    So here is the title page for the Crankamacallit, our interactive children’s story

    Early Icon Concept

    The Crankamacallit Hangar

    The Crankamacallit Hangar is where it all happens! Inside is the “Cranka Works” inventor’s workshop, complete with interactive toolbenches, drafting equipment, windmill parts and a mysterious device called the “INFLATATRON”. I wonder what that does?

    The Crankamacallit workbench.

    The Crankamacallit workbench. Open the interactive toolbox and empty it by hanging all the tools up on the pegboard wall. And be careful with the grinder… Plus a few sound surprises in store as well!

    It came from?

    Obviously, any good Crankamacallit would need to use pretty advanced technology. Where do you suppose some of the Crankamacallit pieces and parts came from?

    Building Permit

    You don’t think we can just build any old thing without a building permit? Let’s make it official, and get it stamped!

    Here is a video link to the Crankamacallit Building Permit animation.