How do we promote knowledge of endangered species and involve the public in helping stop wildlife trafficking? Most of wildlife trafficking still thrives because of ignorance (lack of awareness), and indifference (lack of empathy). While ignorance can be solved by education, the latter is a harder problem to tackle. We wanted to create a solution that not only raises awareness to the public, but also tap into their empath. By getting an emotional response, we intend to drive commitment from people. Another problem on this front is tlhat most Filipino people (i.e. 52%) are now living in the cities and drifting away from the natural world. How do we expose and engage the next generation to be more connected to nature and have a heart for the wildlife? How do we bring the wild directly to people through technology?
What it does
We created an Augmented Reality experience where people can see and interact with endemic and endangered species right in front of them. It also shows important information about the animals such as where they're located, why they're running out, and what you can do to help - from small things such as avoiding illegal wildlife byproducts or directly contributing to existing conservation efforts. By using Augmented Reality, we wanted to capitalize on the power of this immersive medium to foster empathy from users and have them form an emotional connection with the animals, which hopefully extends to the entire species. To drive commitment from users, we are pushing a social media campaign where they can take AR selfies/photos with the animals and post it publicly as a pledge to protect the wildlife.
How we built it
We used Facebook's Spark AR platform to build our experience. Since the AR effect is published on Facebook and Instagram, it is easily shareable which fulfills our goal of making it a social media campaign.
Challenges we ran into
Since we have a limited time for the hackathon, we can only limit the number of species we can feature as creating 3D models of them is the most time-consuming task of the project. One thing we did to make our lives easier is to use freely available 3d models of wildlife animals and just modify their mesh/textures to make it look more like their local species counterparts.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Aside from winning the first place in our city's Zoohackathon, we are really proud that most of the people who tried our experience (judges, other participants, outside friends) all enjoyed our output. We are delighted seeing different creative photos and videos from different people using our AR experience.
What we learned
The most useful thing we learned during the hackathon is how important it is to think about how our solution can drive behavioral change on its users. We really took some time to ideate on ways we can have the users take an action or commitment so that it would have a longer-lasting impact rather than just a gimmicky experience.
What's next for Zooverse
We are updating the experience to add more species as well as remake the 3d models we used during the hackathon to make it look closer to what they look like in real life. Another important addition we want to make is to have a website that aggregates all posts in social media using our AR effect so that we will have a public repository of all of the pledges made.