As the rest of the world fawns over Pokémon GO, some may have forgotten about an augmented reality (AR) experience made right here in South Africa in the form of Pick n Pay’s Super Animals.

A campaign from the retailer consists of packs of four cards customers get from each R150 they spend at stores. The cards can then be scanned into an AR app on Android or iOS.

Once you have the cards in your possession and the app downloaded, it’s really simple to get going. The app will give you an outline of the card in portrait mode and you’ll need to roughly line up the two circle emblems in the top right hand corner.

When you have the card at just the right angle, a 2D sprite of the animal will pop up as well as a fact about the animal. Tapping the sprite will play a recording of the animal’s call.

It’s cool at first and the facts and sounds are a nice touch, but the animal is presented in 2D, making this far less impressive. We would have much preferred a 3D model so we could take a proper look.

The Big Five

The only animals which got this treatment were the Big Five. In place of 2D photos, these five get their own 3D renderings which you can interact with by tapping a heart icon on the side of the screen.

While this is better than the other animals, there’s still a few problems. If you turn the card or your phone / tablet too much, the card will leave the designated area of the camera and the AR projection will stop. This is especially irritating when you want to do a 360 degree look at the Big Five, or simply rotate the card because there is no landscape mode.

Apart from the AR there are a few other aspects to get kids playing. After scanning a certain amounts of cards into the app, it will award “rewards”. These are simply badges that are viewable in the app, presumably for showing off people’s collections.

Also viewable in the app are all the cards that have been scanned in so far, so their animals can be examined without having the cards at hand.

Beyond the app

Outside of the app we also got some other parts of the Super Animals collection to look at.

First up was the Sound Card Reader. As a very simple device, it only consists of a speaker and a reader on the side which can detect cards by swiping them using the printed codes on their sides. It works a lot like the Nintendo e-Reader, but the only result of using it is that the animal’s call will be played. While this could be seen as superfluous, as the app also contains the cries of all the animals, it’s actually a really fun little toy and a great alternative if you don’t want to give your small child a phone or tablet to play with.

Something for collectors

Lastly there’s a collector’s album and tin, each of which are separate purchases. The album gives a lot more for the kids to read but the tin is far superior for keeping cards.

Pick n Pay Super Animals Sounds

As a replacement to the company’s insanely popular Stikeez campaign, and as a tool to teach kids about animals and conservation, Super Animals is a really well put together project.

We can’t say we’re too impressed with the AR portion of it, even though it was the most exciting part of the whole endeavour. But, for a free app that uses promotional items, we can’t complain too much. We know that kids are already in love with the system – some of our staffers have young nieces and nephews who regularly go ga-ga over it – so it’s definitely a success on that front.