scARy MASKS

Tech or Treat

GOOGLE

Mission

Make masking up a little more fun for kids during quarantine Halloween.

Intel

Suffice to say that 2020 was not the best year. With health concerns, lockdowns, stress and anxiety it was hard enough for adults to swallow, but for young children who were already struggling to understand these life changes, missing out on Halloween just didn’t seem fair.

Of course, the Halloween costume market was flooded with all kinds of themed masks for the holidays, but in a time when financial concerns are just as real as health concerns, we identified an opportunity for a simple, DIY project that could be fun for families with a free, technology twist.

Tactics

To aid in Google’s initiative, INPHANTRY experimented with several technologies to create a custom, augmented reality experience that centered on children’s masks. Ultimately we committed to Spark AR which would prove to be more challenging than some of the existing platforms we’d worked with before, but could potentially be leveraged for social sharing on Instagram, the preferred media for most parents.

Using Spark AR necessitated adding a functional UI into a system which was set up to be one-off single-screen AR filters, but the bigger challenge arose when tracking a face where many of the usual tracking markers (the nose and mouth) were obscured. Our approach in the end was a combination of tracking the printed markers on the mask itself via image tracking, in addition to tracking the head position using only the eyes.

Outcome

Ultimately, the scARy mask project pushed the boundaries of AR face tracking and also showcased the capabilities of Google’s Pixel 4 smartphone. The 3D illustrations we designed for the experience added some scARy fun back into Halloween.