The magical world of the Efteling theme park... Who isn't enthusiastic about it? In any case, we are. Many Q-ers were in line when the Efteling, on the recommendation of Google Netherlands, asked us to make a variant of the talking mirror from the Fairytale Forest with voice.
Where the magic in the amusement park itself can be felt everywhere, the Efteling holiday homes on Bosrijk and the Loonsche Land do not have such a strong magical experience. That is why Efteling came up with the exciting plan to hang a magical talking mirror in every house.
To validate this idea, we built a prototype during a jumpstart: a voice assistant in a real, interactive mirror that fits within the wonderful world of Efteling. We combined speech, images, lighting and hardware to create a special experience.
When we started this, we knew we had challenged ourselves. No platform offers what we really wanted. So we had to combine different technologies. We created a physical mirror with hardware behind it that enables interactive communication.
To increase the magic, we did not choose a standard wake word, such as 'ok Google'. The mirror is activated when you say "Mirror, mirror". In terms of voice, we made extra efforts to create the magical character of Efteling. We chose a voice that really has a personality. This gives you the idea that the Magic Mirror is a lackey from a fairy tale.
The mirror functions in the base as an 'ordinary' mirror. But through new voice techniques, the mirror listens to the residents of the house and answers common questions. The Magic Mirror does this through speech, images and perception aspects (LED lighting). This makes it a nicer, interactive replacement for the common information folders.
We developed the prototype during the two-week jump start, followed by a test period. The aim was to verify whether this product was successful and to learn how visitors experience the interactive mirror as quickly as possible. Guests in the holiday home were invited to ask the Magic Mirror practical questions: what time does the park open, what are the waiting times at attractions, and which attractions are closed for maintenance.
But the mirror also offers entertainment for the entire group and, for example, makes language and mirror image music quizzes. After all, from grandparents to children, this voice product must be able to enchant everyone. By testing directly with end users, we managed to make the Magic Mirror production-worthy in a short time.
As far as we are concerned, the Magic Mirror shows very well how voice technology can play an imaginative role for customers such as Efteling.
In 2020, the Efteling Magic Mirror won a bronze Lovie Award, the most prestigious prize within the European internet community. The voice application was also nominated for the Dutch Interactive Awards, the prizes for the very best interactive online work by Dutch agencies. Although the Magic Mirror did not ultimately win the award in the 'New Interfaces' category, the voice assistant did receive an honorable mention.
"Nice way to use voice more widely in an interactive mirror. The technology is new and special. The experimental nature of the case is commendable. There is a solution 'hacked' that works very well."
Jury report Dutch Interactive Awards 2020