Would you like to take a selfie with an elephant? Discover the augmented reality with Safari Central
Safari Central brings wild animals into your world, through the magic of augmented reality. With incredibly animated animals to meet & stunning photography tools for capturing them, this is your go-to app for ferociously photogenic fun
Price: free (in-app purchases)
Runs offline: partially (a connection is required to share the images)
Last update: Android 14/08/2017 (v. 0.20) – iOS 18/08/2017 (v. 1.3)
Website of the developer: Internet of Elephants
Safari Central is an application that shows you animal species in augmented reality (AR). In addition to knowing and interacting with these endangered species, the app allows you to take selfies with them that you can share on social networks. The main objective is to raise awareness about the conservation work of the six NGOs sponsoring the application and to raise funds to continue with the wildlife protection programs. Each 3D model is based on a real animal:
- Ethyl, a grizzly bear from the northwest U.S. Thanks to the work of the Chicago Zoological Society and the Vital Ground Foundation to create wildlife passages, she can wander around Idaho and Montana more safely.
- Rockstar, a pangolin living in the Tswalu Reserve of the Kalahari desert. The Tswalu Foundation and the University of Witwatersrand ensure that he does not end up a victim of poaching.
- Lola, a black rhinoceros living in a conservation centre in Kenya. Because of the poachers, Lola and the other black rhinos need 24-hour surveillance.
- Mweturia, an elephant wandering in the Laikipia region, in Kenya. The NGO Space for Giants works for elephants and people to live in harmony.
- Atiaia, a jaguar that lives in the Iguazu National Park (Argentina). Pro-Carnivores and WWF-Brazil monitor the populations of this feline, in addition to monitoring the forest ecosystem.
- Beby, a lemur living in the jungle of Madagascar. The lemur is a critically endangered primate species due to hunting. Conservation International conducts environmental education programs with schoolchildren to raise awareness among local communities.
Interacting with the app
Safari Central is marker based augmented reality application, so you must place an specific target on a flat surface. You can use two types of targets:
- banknotes of different currencies in circulation (in the case of the euro, a €5 banknote), or
- sponsors’ logos cut out or displayed on a screen (another mobile phone or tablet, for example).
You can download the list of compatible banknotes and logos from this link.
The rear camera of the mobile device activates augmented reality mode. All you have to do is select the animal from the initial menu and focus the target. Once the 3D model is loaded, you can make it move by clicking on the screen.
If you want to take a selfie, click on the camera icon in the lower left corner. This will activate the front camera. Move, scale or rotate the animal and click the camera icon on the right. The free version includes the possibility to make 5 selfies and save or share them. In the Instagram account of the app you can see some images that people have shared.
The screenshots correspond to the Android version of the application.
Images: screenshots 26/06/2018. © Internet of Elephants
The video is recorded using the Android version of the application (6 min 17 seg)
Augmented reality can be defined as «computer-generated content overlaid on a real world environment». This combination of real and virtual world is done through a mobile app, for example, that overlays information or objects making them visible through the device’s screen. It is a technology with many untapped possibilities and can be effective in many areas (education, tourism, etc.). In the present case, the objective is to make public the work of 6 entities that ensure the protection of the environment through a series of animals representative of each project.
Safari Central stands out in comparison to other similar applications already discussed in this blog (AR Shift and Zookazam) for the high quality of its models and, especially, for the reliable recreation of their movements. Perhaps the possibility of scaling the figures in a similar way to the way it can be done in the selfie mode of the application is missing. However, according to Internet of Elephants, in an upcoming version it will be possible to interact with the animals in real size (see video header and demos in the Instagram account of Safari Central). It could also be interesting to include in the application some more data on each species (distribution, dimensions, type of habitat, etc.), although this information is more or less available on the website. It should also be noted that during the tests carried out, a certain slowdown in the operation of the application has occasionally been detected. In this sense and although the app does not require the latest versions of the respective operating systems, it is advisable that the device used has some processing power to allow a better user experience.