The character POOW was created by Björn Crontzell as a tool to make his autistic son eat. The plot is simple; POOW is a boy superhero that encounters a problem, for example a plane in trouble. However, he doesn't have enough energy to solve it and in order to get energy he must eat. And if Björn's son ate, POOW got energy and could save the plane.
Björn created a world of adventures out of transparent sheets and pens, and one day thought that this concept would work perfectly as an app.
When Björn contacted us at Code & Design we got a rough sketch of the character POOW which we started to develop. We created a vectorised, cartoon-style boy and at the same time did the interaction design and visual style for the POOW application. We also did the animation for the first adventure, based on Björn's storyboard.
A few months later POOW — The Food Hero was available as an iPad app on appstore, but the POOW character continued to develop. Instead of obviously being a boy, he was given a more unisex look, and a slightlty more tanned skintone.
In order to give POOW a good unisex look we took our sketches and asked people whether they saw a boy or a girl, and when the answers were 50/50 we were satisfied with the new look.
The more unisex look allows both boys and girls to identify with the character and lets us reach out to a wider group of children in a more satisfying way.
The app is designed so that the parent sets up the food and plate part of the scenario, and then the child chooses which adventure POOW will do.
The world of POOW was created based on a sketch from Björn. It was created to allow for different settings where the adventures could take place, but also to look friendly and welcoming.
There were a few things that were very important to Björn regarding the look of POOW and the animations. Focus was on keeping it simple. Children with different diagnoses can react and be distracted by too many details and that's the reason POOW has glove hands and a rather simplistic look.
The same rules applied to the animations. They should be simple and clear. Since the app was going to be available worldwide, and to in order to keep it very simple, there was to be no speech. That means that every step in the story needed be carried by the animations.
The operation of the app is handled by both parents and child. It begins with setting up the plate with food and eating goal, which is handled by the parent. Then the child is encouraged to choose which adventure he/she wishes POOW to perform.
The first animation explains the problem, and ends with POOW having too little energy to solve the problem. Then the eating phase starts where the child eats, and then erases the equivalent food on the plate in the app. When the goal is reached, POOW has enough energy to solve the problem!