Fantastic beasts… and gnomes in your garden

I think there’s something truly magical about the prospect of mixed reality. As children we grow up with fairy tales about fantastic creatures living in other worlds or long lost lands. Dragons, elves, unicorns, fairies… and maybe even gnomes.

My friend posted this photo on Instagram today.

Another photo revealed “windows” higher up the same tree.

What a wonderfully creative and charming way of engaging people’s imagination as they walk by!

There is something whimsical and intriguing to imagine that friendly magical creatures live among us, demonstrated in the enduring popularity of fiction from classic fairy tales to contemporary works such as J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them. But there are few opportunities to experience these characters in real life. Although amusement parks like Disneyland include amazing buildings, life size characters and special effects, you have to travel to select locations.

There is an opportunity for mixed reality to create magic on our very own doorstep. It’s easy to imagine how mixed reality could extend this cute idea of a “fairy tree”:

  • A fairy living in your very own garden. She might come out in the morning and water her plants. On a sunny day, set up a deck chair and read a book.
  • A collective of fairies living in a local park. They come out of their homes, visit each other and shelter under leaves when it rains.
  • At night, the windows light up or a lantern is lit outside their door, to show that they’re home.
  • You could leave tiny notes in their mailboxes and the next day you’d have a response, in your own mailbox.

This has interesting implications for brands like Disney. Yes, people may still want to travel to Disneyland and experience the magical world of Disney through all five senses. But the company will also have an opportunity to design experiences that can play out within people’s own homes. Instead of just watching DVDs, dressing up and playing with figurines, children will be able to act out their favourite scenes with the characters themselves. (Extending this idea, you can also imagine the fun that people could have acting out the scenes of their own favourite movies.)

And if you’re in any doubt as to whether adults and not just children would be interested in these types of experiences and exchanges, here’s an example. Located in Bunbury, 200km south of Perth in Western Australia, lies a little village called  Gnomesville populated solely by gnomes. Over the years it has become a tourist attraction in it’s own right as people from near and far arrive, to discover the secret lives of gnomes.