Like every big family holiday, Chinese New Year is one that guarantees mixed feelings for those who celebrate. It proposes the universal question: how do we stay emotionally connected with our family while being so geographically scattered? Generation gaps are another universal issue. To Qian (below), a 23-year-old interactive designer from the southern province of Fujian, the answer is a mailbox for her 80-something grandma that enables them to easily share “福” (fu, “blessing”), despite very different levels of technological literacy.
For those who don’t know much about the (relatively new) tradition of “five fu” collecting, the basic idea is to smartphone-scan the 福 character, a ubiquitous symbol around Chinese New Year, into an in-app Alipay game. The name of the game is a play on an old Chinese idiom, 五福临门: “may five blessings come to the family,” those being longevity, health, wealth, virtue, and a natural death.
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A few years ago, in response to WeChat launching an instantly popular digital red envelope (or hongbao) sharing function, rival Alipay launched the “Five Fu Cards Collection” hongbao campaign as a riff on the old saying.
After successfully collecting five virtual “lucky cards” (福卡, fuka) before the end of Chinese New Year’s Eve, users have the chance to participate in a lucky draw to win random amounts from a pool of 500 million RMB (about $74 million USD) in cash and coupons.
The “Five Fu Cards” campaign requires a smartphone and an Alipay account to participate, neither of which are easily comprehended by someone as old as Qian’s grandma. She felt left out, which inspired Qian to design an interactive installation that can scan the Fu’s grandma collects and send them to Qian to upload, and prompt the grateful granddaughter to send a thankful message in return.
Now that you have the background, let your heart be melted by this three-minute video about the project (with English subtitles):
The team behind the installation is a creative multimedia agency in Xiamen called SeeekLab, where Qian works. According to their About page, the company is ”always in search of the meanings installations can hold for human emotions, aiming to find new forms of expression by transcending the boundary between emotion and technology.”
Personally, I find it delightful to see creations like this that carry emotions at their core, and this video is certainly an uplifting watch as we march towards increasing technological saturation in the forthcoming Year of the Pig.
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