Steven Chiu, most famous for co-founding one of China’s largest online recruitment websites www.zhaopin.com, has moved on to a more innovative social media game development company called ClearWorld Media.

Their first game release is called PicPic App. I’m a big fan of augmented reality (AR), so I was keen to check this out. PicPic is a gamified AR app that gives each user a cute virtual bird to release into the big world. Like releasing a homing pigeon, the bird flies around the real world and other players can snap a picture of the bird and send you a picture of your bird in another country. You can choose the journey the bird takes but how far it can go depends on how much food it has. Once at its destination, the bird starts to gather food for its next journey. For a strange reason, it seems the birds like to eat croissants.

This is a picture showing where my bird named ‘Jumbodo’, currently is on the map.

This is a picture showing that someone named Gary snapped a picture of my bird, all the way in Christchurch New Zealand. I’m not sure how it made it all the way to New Zealand and back to China…

It’s a very interesting concept because it mixes the online and offline world very well through AR. As an example, I am sitting in Beijing and I make my bird fly to Barcelona in Spain. Players who are on the game, can detect my bird if it is near them. Then by locating the bird, it will fly towards them until they can take a picture of the bird on top of a real world background. This means you can receive pictures of your bird from all over the world and places you’ve never been to, like Egypt or Russia or the Silicon Valley.  In some ways the bird could be like your little spy, going to places or to people you want see.

PicPic kind of reminds me of the Japanese Tamagotchi craze back in primary school, where  kids would obsess about keeping their pet Tamagotchi alive and well fed. In the same way, your bird can find food along its journeys to be able to gain health and fly further. Could PicPic be the new Tamogotchi?

The gamified element comes into play, where users can level up birds to travel faster and further you want to see. Capturing pictures of birds also generates rewards to speed you up.

Virtual gold coins can also be purchased to power up your bird to fly faster and further. 10 gold coins costs $0.99, 100 coins $5.49 and 1000 coins cost $31.99.

The game was just updated on March 11 and is available on the Apple App Store for free. You can download it here.