Explaining the Principles That Control Our Universe Through Simple Experiments.

The Short Of It

The world’s foremost authority on science, Dr. Stephen Hawking, and his publisher, Penguin Random House, sought to translate his best-selling books, A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell, into an interactive and educational mobile application that makes the laws of time and space not only accessible, but engaging and fun.

The Situation

Dr. Hawking’s books communicate the principles that control our universe in laymen’s terms by using illustrations and Dr. Hawking’s playful style to add clarity and appeal. A digital experience that makes these complex propositions not just accessible, but actively engaging was sought to teach the masses the fundamental principles of the universe through 10 interactive experiments.

Science made simple, relatively speaking…

The Challenge

Make science fun! How to take all of the ideas in the books and turn them into creative, fun experiments that you can pick up and learn easily on a tablet or mobile device. Did we mention it also needed to appeal to both kids and grown-ups alike?!

Our Approach

In close collaboration with Penguin Random House, we sought to design a Dr. Hawking-approved experience that makes the complex laws of the universe not just accessible, but actively engaging. By taking an “easy to use, difficult to master” approach, we took our extensive history in game design (400 and expanding!) and used it as our North Star during development because casual games have clear appeal to kids and adults We applied game mechanics like “mastery” to motivate users to master scientific concepts, just like they might want to master levels in a game. We also made a deliberate departure from the more typical dark palette and highly rendered graphics we too often see in science and space content, in favor of a super-simplified visual treatment. Distilling the visuals down to an infographic style added clarity to the content, as well as making the app more relevant and appealing to a general audience.

The Result

Science made simple, relatively speaking. The phenomena surrounding how planets stay in orbit, the evolution of a star, the relativity of time, etc. was distilled into 10 highly interactive and engaging digital experiments: drop objects with Galileo to comprehend gravity; uncover hidden black holes in the constellation of Leo; even interact with Albert Einstein as he teaches the concepts of G-force in outer space. Users in over 90 countries have set forth on a guided exploration through a challenging, humorous and rewarding intergalactic journey. Bonus Result: the learning style of the app was so successful it has even been incorporated into the classroom setting.

Users in over 90 countries have set forth on a guided exploration through a challenging, humorous and rewarding intergalactic journey.


  • Working with Dr. Hawking of course!
  • Apple’s Best Apps of 2014
  • Tunes Editor’s Choice, December 2013
  • iTunes Featured App in the Education category
  • eSchool News App of the Week
  • 4 star rating on iTunes
  • Downloaded in over 90 countries


  • Ideation
  • UX Design
  • Visual Design
  • Unity Development
  • Motivational UX™
  • QA
  • Analytics

Ready to launch?

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