With social distancing, social media trends have been developing and going viral at breakneck speed. I was particularly inspired by the rapid spread of the "guess the gibberish" filter, which was used by peers and celebrities alike as they bonded over a simple but entertaining activity. I wanted to harness this unifying and engaging power of social media and filter trends to actually help users get involved and learn simple and achievable ways they can improve their community and have a positive impact on the world through leading more sustainable lives. Since we also recently celebrated Earth Day, I wanted to combine technology with community conservation.

What it does

green:earth provides a randomized call to action based on thorough research, that users can complete. Due to its nature as a social media filter, it is also highly accessible and thus provides prompts that a diverse and wide range of users can benefit from. Examples include planting a garden, opting for biking or public transit over cars, and decluttering based on the five R’s (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot).

How I built it

I built green: earth using Spark AR, a tool used by freelancers and full corporations to create aesthetic and engaging social media filters and assorted augmented reality media.

First, I used Microsoft Word to create all the graphics and texture files to be used as the question and prompt pages. I also researched heavily using resources such as the Jane Goodall Institute, NOAA, and government websites to understand and adapt how the average user could take action. I used Coolors.Co to generate a green and blue driven, aesthetically pleasing color palettes to create a cohesive product.

After creating the textures, I created an animation sequence and arranged all the "answer" textures in a loop. I then created two materials, one for the question/cover page and one for the answer, and set the answer material textures to the animation sequence.

I used the Patch Editor to build the backend of green: earth. I created the face finder feature to connect the screen tap motion to triggering the filter. I used components such as switches, offset, runtime, loops, and randomization to connect all the frontend elements together. I then tested the whole filter using the Spark AR Player on my mobile device.

Challenges I ran into

This project was my first time building a social media filter and using Spark AR at all, so I faced a major learning curve in challenging myself to create something different and unfamiliar. I faced challenges in adapting my overall goal of helping people through social media to fit the capacity of the resources I was finding. Although I knew there were certain filters that had been made, with the limited time and learning resources I had, I modified and scaled my goal to be challenging but still achievable. I also had to emphasize balancing my time between actually building and researching the content of each answer. I made significant improvements in my communication abilities

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

  • I was able to build a fully functional AR filter using a brand new technology (Spark AR). I learned how Spark AR works and how media that I interact with on a daily basis is made. My project is currently being reviewed to actually be available on Instagram and Facebook.
  • I built something not only technically complex and challenging, but also highly relevant and timely. I adapted a concept that has been proven to work socially and made it a viable and valuable tool for solving an issue that is relevant to all of humanity.

What I learned

I learned how to use Spark AR, how to research to create technology relevant to social issues, and how to create and extrapolate on the fundamentals of a social media filter.

What's next for green: earth

I hope to get approved to launch on Instagram and Facebook, as well as expanding to create more complex filters, such as collaborative quiz challenges. I’d also like to partner with national organizations like the Jane Goodall Institute to increase visibility and usership of my project.

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