“Happy!,” which premieres on Syfy on December 6, is all about a cynical hit man who one day starts seeing a relentlessly optimistic winged unicorn, aptly named Happy.
“Happy!,” the augmented reality (AR) app, brings that same unicorn to your living room, ready to answer all of your questions, perform a bunch of tricks and — spoiler alert — defecate on your carpet. But it’s not as bad as it sounds, because naturally, unicorns don’t do turds.
The “Happy!” AR app has been built by Syfy’s digital arm, and was released for iPhone and Android Wednesday. It features the voice of Patton Oswalt, who also voices Happy in the show.
“The brief for this wrote itself,” said Syfy Digital SVP Matthew Chiavelli in an interview with Variety. The ability to overlay the physical world with the show’s animated character on the phone was such a natural pairing that Chiavelli’s team started to explore the idea even before Apple announced its ARKit technology in June.
The result is that the app works with both — AR-enabled phones and those who can’t run ARKit, or Google’s ARCore, yet. A simplified AR version just overlays Happy the unicorn over a view of the camera.
Anyone who owns and iPhone 6s or later can instead experience the app in ARKit mode, in which it automatically scans the room to recognize surfaces and correctly display Happy, as if he were in the room with you. Go closer, and the unicorn gets bigger. Make it poop, and the results roll on your floor. “We’ve been happy with what we’ve been able to pull off with the tech,” punned Chiavelli.
He also called working on the app a great learning experience, and said that Syfy would look into using AR for future apps as well. However, he also said that Syfy had always tried to use new technologies when they enhanced the story, and not just to tick a box: “We never did it just to do it.”