In Augmented Reality
Encouraging people to help animals via AR
Designer + Researcher
August 2023- October 2023
Adobe After Effects
The project aimed at creating an AR game-like experience to build empathy towards animals. This was achieved by immersing users in scenarios where they actively participate in aiding injured animals. The overarching goal is to enhance users' confidence and awareness, ensuring they are well-prepared to assist animals effectively when confronted with similar real-life situations.
Cruelty toward animals is a pervasive global issue, ranging from wildlife poaching to factory farming practices and habitat destruction. These cruelties often result from a lack of awareness and empathy among humans who fail to grasp the emotional experiences of animals.
Empathy is a powerful motivator for change, and increasing empathy toward animals is essential for advocating for their rights, conservation, and humane treatment. Hence, I propose the development of an Augmented Reality (AR) experience that enables users to interact with lifelike AR avatars of different animals in their environment. These avatars can represent a diverse range of species, from domestic pets to endangered wildlife.
Cost of development to exactly replicate the rescue scenarios for different animal species.
Technological accuracy to exactly replicate the emotions of different animals with respect to different scenarios they face.
Access to measure the project's impact on fostering empathy and advancing conservation efforts.
Technical limitations of AR hardware and software, including available resources, computing power, and AR headset accessibility.
PHASE 2 - COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS
As the next step, I went on to do a brief competitive analysis of the existing products in my problem space to understand the existing gaps in them which I can turn into potential opportunities.
Wildlife Rescue AR
Finding AR animals is an
interactive feature and keeps
the user engaged.
Taps into the rescue of
Limited empathy-building due to minimal interaction in capturing endangered species.
Exclusive focus on endangered species excludes other animals.
Lack of post-capture activities results in a lack of incentives for continued play.
Search for endangered animals throughout the spacious atriums at Gaylord Hotels and add them to your collection
Real AR Zoo
Leads you into the animal world anytime, anywhere. Interact with
the animal, observe it, and learn from it.
Has a big repository of
The animals show some
customized movement which
makes them look more realistic.
The user can only observe the
AR animal’s behavior and
cannot actually interact with
Talking Tom repeats after you. You can also feed your virtual pet with his favorite food
- Give him spicy chilies and watch him react
- Hand him ice cream for a cold surprise
Interactions with Talking Tom feel very realistic.
Only focused on one type of animal- cat.
Also, includes features such as
poking the cat on the hand,
giving him spicy food, etc.
Hence, not intended to build
empathy towards cats but is
only intended to behave as a
VR experience to play with pets, take care of them, feed them, give them a bath, etc.
Has numerous possible interactions of the player with the animals, which makes the users play the game again. I can also build on the interactive aspect to retain more users.
Does not focus on the rescue of animals or building empathy towards them.
After conducting a comprehensive analysis of the existing competitors in the space, I made the following observations:
It's clear that available AR and VR apps for interacting with virtual animals are limited in scope. Most focus on pets and endangered species, leaving a gap in addressing empathy for a broader range of animals, such as stray animals.
Furthermore, certain applications solely focus on animal collection without incorporating an empathy-building component. In response, the intent of my project is to amalgamate these two essential functionalities and elevate them to a more realistic level.
Finally, my problem statement evolved as follows:
“How can we leverage immersive AR technologies to enhance empathy in individuals toward a wider range of animals, including pets, farm animals, and endangered species, and encourage their active involvement in animal welfare and conservation initiatives?”
Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects
I started with storyboarding the scenarios and the various AR interactions. This helped me visualize the viewing angles, the scenes as well as the elements in the environment that I wanted to show in my digital prototyping.
Adobe Aero + Lens Studio
I wanted to go a step further and explore other prototyping methods in the digital space now that I had a rough idea of the AR interactions and gestures to prototype via physical prototyping. Hence, I used Adobe Aero as well as hand tracking templates from the Lens Studio. The final video is placed below.
Interaction | HAND Tap
User taps on the tree to get hold of the scared puppy who is hiding behind the tree.
I majorly used After effects to show the tap interaction. However, I intend to recreate this via hand tracking in Lens Studio
Interaction | HAND TRACKING
User removes the pin from the puppy’s paw.
I realized that it would have been better if I had used finger tracking here, because currently it doesn’t give the effect that I am holding the pin
Interaction | POPPING HEARTS
User pops the hearts to collect points for saving the puppy’s life.
I used a popping heart gif & customized the hand tracking template to show that the hand is popping hearts.
PHASE 4 - NEXT STEPS
Creating more scenarios for saving injured animals other than dogs.
Thinking about dealing with varied lighting conditions, different surfaces, and dynamic spaces for this prototype.
Testing the interactions with the intended users to make further improvements.
Got hands-on experience with Adobe Aero and Lens Studio to create interactions in the AR space.
Also played around with the “tween manager” in Lens Studio to make animations, however, I did not incorporate elements from that in the final prototype.
Realized the importance of designing to scale in AR, I adjusted the oversized 3D models of the puppy and the surrounding elements after testing those in real environment.
Experimented with surface tracking, world tracking to see which one would be more suitable for my interactions
Customizing the Lens studio templates for my interactions was a bit challenging. I also had to try out multiple templates before finalizing one.
Aligning the augmented reality elements with the physical environment in a seamless manner.