Engineering students are partnering with Tucson's Reid Park Zoo for a capstone project that seeks to create an interactive mobile app for zoo patrons to learn more about different animals. The students are beginning with the zoo's Chilean flamingo exhibit, but, if it is successful, the zoo would like to use the same idea for other animals and exhibits.
“I have very fond memories of going to the Reid Park Zoo with my family growing up,” said ECE student Celeste Maher. “I also really enjoy coding and developing software. Therefore, creating a mobile application for Reid Park Zoo was just something I had to be a part of.”
The team, which also includes ECE members Bennett Bradley Estrada and Rohan Rasiklal Patel, had two options: One for the app to provide information about the specific animals at the zoo, such as their names and ages, as well as some information about the species’ natural history. The other is an immersive experience in which zoo guests can scan a QR code to see a photo or augmented reality portrayal of the animals in their natural habitat. As people move through the park, the app will display text and images with more information about the animals.
The team members, who are using the Agile process for their project, have opted to try the more extensive, augmented reality version. They’re finishing up the design and planning portion of the project and looking ahead to developing a 3D, augmented reality flamingo.
“None of us have experience in 3D design or animation, so we will have to learn as we go,” said Alexa Hayden, team lead and systems engineering major. “Although this will be the hardest part of our project, we are excited to learn how to create and animate a 3D model of a Chilean flamingo!”