Augmented Reality Zoo Exhibits and Zoo-AR

Posted on August 13, 2012 in Bringing Learning to Life

Presenting Zoo-AR!

Over the past 8 months Geomedia has been working on a top secret project using a variety of new technologies and devices. If you’ve been one of the lucky ones (lucky meaning – you happened to be there when we were play-testing this stuff) you might have caught a glimpse of some of what we’re working on.

It’s a product we’re calling Zoo-AR, and you can learn more about it by watching this video.

Zoo-AR Teaser from Geomedia on Vimeo.

Zoo-AR is an implementation of a technology called Augmented Reality. AR for short, it’s a computer vision based technology that allows us to superimpose images, 2D or 3D over the real world. So, think Yoda or Tupac… yeah it’s kind of like that. The difference is that our technology doesn’t cost millions of dollars, instead you can do it all with your own personal smart phone or tablet – as long as you’re part of the 86% of people using Android or iOS. We hope to be available on all those other operating systems nobody really uses soon.

We’ve spent the last 8 months in several capacities – talking everything from business plans, to sponsorship opportunities, to university research and educational content. Education is really our prime focus – how can we create something valuable where nothing currently exists? How can we change the 30 seconds kids spend at a zoo exhibit into 10 minutes? Better yet – how can we make them walk away with a real impression. Plastic bags really aren’t that great for the environment. Maybe I should turn the lights off when I leave the room and won’t be back in for a while. Why should I recycle my Coca Cola at lunch time instead of just trashing it? Making impressions on kids not only for further inquiry and education, but also giving them hard action items they can go home and start putting into practice is something that is important to us.

Knowing how important education would be going forward – we’ve teamed with a variety of faculty, Ph.D, and researchers to help us along the way. We want to create REAL programming, and we want to balance that with our skills in design and user experience. This is kind of the core of what we’re trying to do, and what we think makes this product valuable and desirable.

Fortunately for us, we’ve had a ton of support from our local San Antonio Zoo, and they’ve allowed us to do a number of research tests and live tests at their exhibits to show this technology to kids, parents, teachers, and school groups. We really wouldn’t be where we are without the help we’ve had from them – and we hope to continue to do some really awesome things going forward. In fact – we’ve got a few things planned soon we hope to update everyone about. Stay tuned for that.

Really though – for many years our core business has been advertising. And we see that still playing a role in Zoo-AR. We’ve built in a number of sponsorship opportunities for local companies to sponsor specific zoos, or national companies to sponsor entire regions of the United States. Ultimately, we plan to provide our technology free to zoos around the US, and the sponsors we put together will play an important role in furthering this goal. As we sign up more zoo’s, our network will expand and offer more opportunities for our sponsors – in turn increasing the interactivity and education of our product for those zoos.

We’re really excited about the reactions we’ve received from some early technology tests with people in a variety of industries and conservation conscious companies. As we move forward on this journey we’ll keep you updated on what we’re doing and share the latest. We hope if you have any ideas for how we can improve what we’re doing you’ll share with us as well.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook too!

See you soon.

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