ARNIMO is a play on the words "AR" & "Animal"


Ever since news outlets have been constantly reporting on COVID-19, all we could think about was the health and wellness of human beings. With the growing fear of quarantines, we are reminded of the thousands of children who are confined to secluded hospital rooms every day. Children aspire to be around friends but hospitalization can interfere with their social development.

We created ARNIMO to help these kids create a virtual companion through Augmented Reality that they can play with, feed, and pet. Additionally, these kids are able to virtually meet other players and communicate with each other through their own pet pals.

ARNIMO will help integrate these children into a tight-knit community, giving them an environment where they can make friends and make socializing fun and easy.

What it does

ARNIMO allows the user to create a profile, choose a virtual animal companion (they're super cute!) and communicate with other patients using their virtual companion.

Users are first presented with a list of animals to choose from. Once their virtual companion is created, users are able to virtually play with it through AR using their mobile device camera. Whether it is to feed or to pet, the companion will act accordingly. With their companion, users will be able to see other people’s companions on a local map. Tapping on a nearby companion allows the two users to communicate with each other through a chat box.

Moreover, we have a chat-bot within the chat who initiates conversation with the child and asks simple questions like "How is your day going so far?"

How we built it

  1. First, we started with a mock up created in Adobe XD to visualize what we wanted the mobile app to look like.
  2. Created animal icons / animated objects through Adobe Photoshop.
  3. We then turned to React Native to build the mobile app. We used Microsoft Azure App Service (our server), Microsoft Azure Maps, Microsoft Azure Cosmos DB (where we put data for the other pets on the map), and Micorsoft Text-to-Speech for our chat-bot!

Challenges we ran into

  1. This is the first time any of us has worked with Augmented Reality so we had challenges in using the AR library with React Native and implementing it into our mobile app.

  2. We had plans to use a Leap Motion controller to track the user's hand movements but it was a struggle to get the controller up and running due to Leap Motion controller’s driver bug.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  1. Since this was the first time any of us has dealt with Augmented Reality, we’re glad with the product we were able to come up with and we are confident that this will be able to serve little children struggling with issues that they can't articulate.

  2. We had problems getting the Leap Motion controller to work but after several hours we were able to get it to work and it was amazing! We hope to eventually (very soon) implement this into our app wherein the child can perform actions like 'petting' the animal through hand-tracking technology provided by Leap Motion. We have the servers in place, and integrating the servers to interact with the app is the only gap to fill now.

  3. Inserting AR objects into our app was a challenge, primarily because the internet doesn't have enough documentation regarding AR apps with React Native with Expo. We were unable to receive enough mentorship from people with AR App development experience, too.

What we learned

  1. Implementing Augmented Reality into a mobile app (especially react native with expo)
  2. Leap Motion Controller
  3. Microsoft Azure

What's next for ARNIMO

Implementing the Leap Motion controller to identify when the user is petting the virtual companion, in order to create a more immersive experience for the users- we have the structure in place!

Allowing other users to create their own personalized companion and send it to a child along with a heartfelt personalized message. The children can then collect all the companions sent to them in a “zoo,” which could be something like XP points!

Animal Drawings provided by: Freepik

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