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The Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park is bringing the NZ Moa back from extinction and releasing it in Otorohanga.
The Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park is bringing the NZ Moa back from extinction and releasing it in Otorohanga.
108 backers pledged NZ$ 5,169 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

The Moa is back! NZ's 1st Virtual Bird Park in Otorohanga project video thumbnail
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How the idea was born to bring a Moa back from extinction

When I moved to New Zealand I was shocked to learn that 75% of the New Zealand bird species have already gone extinct. 

About a year ago, just after TEDx Auckland 2013 I was on the phone to Roger Brady from the Otorohanga District Council in New Zealand speculating what a great tourist attraction it would be if we could bring the Moa's back as part of the local Kiwi House tourist attraction. What better place in New Zealand than Metropolis Otorohanga with the world famous Kiwi House! The Otorohanga District Development Board funded a prototype of the idea. 

So here we are, - a year later and the next TEDx show is on in a few weeks time -, and we have our first Geo Augmented Reality proto-type of a Virtual Moa wildlife Park ready to be introduced to the world! 

Jo and the Moa
Jo and the Moa

It is the first of it's kind and uses cutting edge technology developed by Augview who I work with. We have developed a platform that will allow visitors to not only view Moa but also interact with them, walk up to them, follow them around or run away from them because they will at times stalk you for food!

I have started a blog to capture the journey along the way, in particular the feedback of our Moa experts Trevor Worthy and Lizzy Perrett during production. 

http://nzkiwihouse.blogspot.co.nz

Our first Moa is a beautiful Northern Island Giant Moa. 
We have proven that our concept will work by setting up a test park in Victoria Park Auckland which is filled with an eclectic collection of virtual dinosaurs, architecture, fireworks, etc

At the moment we are using our native Augview platform to demonstrate the proto-type, but for the Kiwi House it would be more effective to have their own branded Kiwi House App that allows them to bring in some additional funding to preserve the New Zealand wildlife. 

What we now need is NZ$85,000 to split off the app for the KiwiHouse and an additional NZ$95,000 to add more content like the Haast Eagle and a Moa nesting side, chicks, eggs, etc  to make a visit worthwhile! The current Augview app has been designed to be used in the utilities industry and that's why we need to redesign our current interface so it is simpler to use. We have only asked for $5,000 because that seemed to be a good start, but are hoping for your generosity and enthusiasm. 

And then we got Media attention...

When we started telling people about our 1st proto-type we got Media attention very quickly


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11303343

http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/10321044/Virtual-park-bringing-moa-to-life

Who is behind the App development?

The Virtual Bird Park concept by software development company Augview, has been welcomed by the Otorohanga District Development Board (an Economic Development Agency funded by the Otorohanga District Council) and the Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park, a not-for-profit wildlife centre established in 1971 and dedicated to the conservation and breeding of NZ’s rare and endangered wildlife. The Virtual Bird Park would be located opposite the Otorohanga Kiwi House in Rotary Park and surrounding areas. It will add to the Otorohanga Kiwi House income stream, attract further tourism and put Otorohanga on the map as the first town in Australasia to have a Virtual Augmented Reality Park.

The Otorohanga District Development Board is very supportive, because it creates educational opportunities for local students to learn IT skills required in building the Virtual Bird Park and growing the digital industry.

The overarching strategy is to: · Make Otorohanga the first Virtual Town with a variety of Augmented Reality Parks, games and local community content to experience and interact with · Create a digital industry sector in Otorohanga

How does the Technology work?

Augmented Reality has been a buzz word for the past few years but only few people really understand its potential. Augview (www.augview.net) is a Kiwi owned software developer with the technology to work in the Geo Augmented Reality space. Geo AR uses GPS coordinates to position complex 3D models or animations into real space. The combination of both reality and the virtual reality is called Augmented Reality. Unlike most Augmented Reality apps we don’t use markers, pictures or other forms of tracking the digital feed into the live camera feed. We use the mobile sensors to position a 3D world into the real space the user moves around in.

Geo AR is a very immersive way to play, explore and move around in a virtual parallel universe that co-exists within our own. It is a creative playing field with enormous potential and the 1st of it’s kind in the world. The closest in comparison is “Ingress” developed by Google which uses the combination of GPS data and Augmented Reality but not to its full potential.

Augview Ltd is a software developer specialising in the new cutting edge technology of GEO AR (Geographical Augmented Reality).

GEO AR uses the mobile sensors (now quite common) in smartphones and tablets to create an alternative universe within the real world. You can compare it with a giant Playstation, where a real park becomes the virtual playing field. The player explores this digital world by moving around and interacting with the virtual world content.

In order to see this virtual world the player needs a digital device such as a smartphone or a digital tablet. The camera function within the device is utilised as the window to the other world and is essentially a live camera feed overlaid with a digital feed from an intelligent 3D game engine (Unity) which calculates the viewer’s physical location. The virtual world content is linked to GPS coordinates, which respond to the GPS feed from the viewer’s digital device.

Our 1st Moa in the Rotary Park in Otorohanga, New Zealand
Our 1st Moa in the Rotary Park in Otorohanga, New Zealand

The virtual birds in the Otorohanga Virtual Bird Park will be 3D animated models, which are linked to each other using game flow mechanics. For instance, if a visitor walks up to a Moa the distance will trigger the Moa to react at some stage. It may look up at the visitor and react in a friendly way or it might be programmed to attack because the adult female Moa has a young bird and feels threatened. This will all depend on the scripting of the game flow.

The digital device used by the visitor feeds information to the game engine about the player’s location in the park, the direction in which he/she is looking and their proximity to the next virtual bird. Birds might stalk a visitor and beg for food (which could become a lesson in itself… more birds appear and want food and surround the visitor and become aggressive) or protect their young, flee, interact with each other, react to other birds entering the scene, etc.

Every visitor’s view will be unique and each visitor will have their own experience of what is happening in their virtual world.

The 3D models and the bird behaviour will be guided by the Moa expert Trevor Worthy and Lizzy Perret, the zoologist and wildlife manager based at the Otorohanga Kiwi House. Our Moas closest relatives are the emu, ostrich, kiwi bird species and we endeavour to make the bird park visit an authentic experience.

Augmented Reality glasses from Meta
Augmented Reality glasses from Meta

Augview has also invested in Augmented Reality glasses. We will be aiming to make this wildlife park available for Meta AR Glasses, also known as www.spaceglasses.com. These are gesture interactive Augmented reality glasses that would take this experience to the next level. 

Our team is already developing for Meta and we are looking forward to bringing you updates as Meta develops further. 

Example:

Below is a link to one of our early Augview demo videos, which has been filmed at Victoria Park in Auckland. We have filled the park with all sorts of creatures, architecture etc and the viewer can walk around the park and explore. We have noticed that our players get so absorbed in the virtual world that they often forget where they are. As a result we locate our Virtual Parks in safe pedestrian areas without any traffic or other hazards. Observers often approach us and ask “What on earth are you doing?” or “What are you looking at?”. Kids love it and don’t notice how much running they do as they explore this world. Anything is possible in the virtual world.

The dinosaur models shown in the video were purchased from the Unity store for a small fee and are very basic demo models. We will be modelling the Otorohanga birds to look much more sophisticated within the current capability of digital devices. (Most consumer devices can at present manage 500.000-1 million polygons).

The birds will also have improved lighting and shading/shadows. The earlier You Tube demo video was part of a Proof of Concept example and as you can see from the current model at the top, we are developing our Moa with the little funds we have left further.

Our Rewards for your help!

http://www.kiwihouse.org.nz/kiwihouse-adoption.html

and some of the fluffy critters that are up for reward!

We are currently designing some very cool T-Shirts and I am optimistically hoping I can turn them into AR T-Shirts if we get enough funding so you can have your photo taken with a Moa if you wear the T-Shirt!

Education:

Otorohanga also sees the potential for significant educational opportunities. Currently over 8000 students visit from schools outside of the area to participate in educational programmes. These visiting students and local students will benefit from the opportunity to learn about NZ’s extinct wildlife, animal behaviour and conservation concepts through interaction in an augmented reality. They will also learn to take risks, make informed decisions and explore both physical and virtual space in a controlled safe environment.

The local high school, Otorohanga College, has committed to develop both staff skills in Unity software programming, and to create relevant unit standards to enable students to gain qualifications in three dimensional graphic design and computer programming. Otorohanga South School, the largest local primary school, has also committed to ensuring all 11 and 12 year old students develop skills in basic programming and three dimensional animation using entry level software. We are liaising with a number of tertiary providers to ensure there are clear pathways for these young people to continue to develop skills and gain marketable qualifications. These students will be able to utilise the Virtual Bird Park as a platform for exhibiting their creations.

The app can also be used offline, so visitors overseas can observe Moas etc from their comfortable seat at home. However, they won’t be able to walk up to a bird and have the same interactive experience as someone in the park.

The demographic:

The Virtual Bird Park is for all ages. Statistics show that currently most people between the ages of 15-65 have a suitable digital device. The Otorohanga Kiwi House currently has a visitor stream of approximately 40,000 people annually (projected to increase significantly with the planned re-development). We expect 50% of visitors would download the game and get hooked by the free experience.

The Kiwi House is also interested in providing tablets on loan to those visitors arriving without their devices.

Visitors will learn about the app on arrival at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, welcoming them to the world’s first Geo AR Virtual Bird Park.

Risks and challenges

The Otorohanga District Council has provided some seed funding to develop the Moa as far as you can see it now.
Behind Augview, the software developer, is a dedicated team of experienced developers and engineers who are experts in GIS and Geo Augmented Reality.
We are also aiming to release a version for the Meta Glasses (www.spaceglasses.com) which we are working with.

The Virtual Bird Park will be initially only available in Otorohanga until it is fully established.

At present we only need the money to break away the app for the Kiwi House.

For now every $$$ counts to develop this dream further and give a community a cutting edge Virtual Park that assist income through tourism, digital education and make visitors wonder what animals will go extinct next?

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 10 or more About $9

    The latest snapshot of our development and our Moa will be emailed to you as a thank you from the team!

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 60 or more About $52

    A NZ Kiwi House soft toy of your choice will be posted to you as a Thank You from the Kiwi House.
    Available are the Great spotted Kiwi, the Brown Kiwi, the Morpork, a Kea, a Red-Crowned Kakariki, a Kereru or a Tuatara and they all make their authentic sounds when you cuddle them.

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    Pledge NZ$ 80 or more About $69

    A special limited edition Moa Park T-Shirt will be sent to you as a Thank you.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 200 or more About $174

    Adopt a Kiwi House Critter!
    Support your favorite bird or reptile at the Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park with our 'Adopt a Kiwi House Critter' Program.
    For NZ$200 a year you can choose to adopt one of our native birds or reptiles and help us provide the special care they need in our breeding programs and conservation efforts.
    Our animals receive the best and most nutritious food, medical care and attention. Your adoption sponsorship helps us make the Park a great place for the birds, reptiles and people who visit. (Because we are a 'not-for-profit' organization every cent we earn goes back into the conservation work of the Otorohanga Kiwi House).

    (Adoption confers no legal ownership. The birds and reptiles in the Park are held under licence for the Department of Conservation).

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 250 or more About $217

    Get a special limited edition Moa Park T-Shirt and a NZ Kiwi House soft toy of your choice will be posted to you as a Thank You from the Kiwi House.
    Available are the Great spotted Kiwi, the Brown Kiwi, the Morpork, a Kea, a Red-Crowned Kakariki, a Kereru or a Tuatara and they all make their authentic sounds when you cuddle them.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 500 or more About $434

    A personal Skype conversation with the makers of the Kiwi House Geo AR wildlife Park to answer all your questions and help you with any ideas you may have for your own production. If you are close to Otorohanga you will also get a personalised tour of the Kiwi House and a personal up-close glimpse of the Virtual Bird Park in Otorohanga.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 1,000 or more About $868

    You will receive regular updates, videos, screen shots and personal updates of the project + a personal Skype conversation with the makers of the Kiwi House Geo AR wildlife Park to answer all your questions and help you with any ideas you may have for your own production. If you are close to Otorohanga you will also get a personalised tour of the Kiwi House and a personal up-close glimpse of the Virtual Bird Park in Otorohanga.
    You can choose to adopt a Kiwi House Critter!
    Support your favorite bird or reptile at the Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park with our 'Adopt a Kiwi House Critter' Program.
    For NZ$200 a year you can choose to adopt one of our native birds or reptiles and help us provide the special care they need in our breeding programs and conservation efforts.
    Our animals receive the best and most nutritious food, medical care and attention. Your adoption sponsorship helps us make the Park a great place for the birds, reptiles and people who visit. (Because we are a 'not-for-profit' organization every cent we earn goes back into the conservation work of the Otorohanga Kiwi House).

    (Adoption confers no legal ownership. The birds and reptiles in the Park are held under licence for the Department of Conservation).

    In addition get a special limited edition Moa Park T-Shirt and a NZ Kiwi House soft toy of your choice will be posted to you as a Thank You from the Kiwi House.
    Available are the Great spotted Kiwi, the Brown Kiwi, the Morpork, a Kea, a Red-Crowned Kakariki, a Kereru or a Tuatara and they all make their authentic sounds when you cuddle them.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 2,500 or more About $2,170

    Become a Beta Tester to our current Augview Virtual Theme Park. We will set up a park near you and give you a Beta License for Augview. You will be able to upload your own model (fbx) if you wish to. It will need to adhere to our art spec guidelines. If you are close to Otorohanga you will also get a personalised tour of the Kiwi House and the WIP Virtual Bird Park in Otorohanga.

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    Pledge NZ$ 5,000 or more About $4,339

    Sponsor the development of the nesting site for our Moa girl and help us add to her environment. You will get up close with the feedback and discussions of what a Moa nesting site would have been like, what the eggs looked like and get involved in the feedback for the nest building animation process.
    - Or alternatively instead of the nesting site you can choose to release some Moa chicks that will run after their Moa Mum and get up to mischief.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 5,000 or more About $4,339

    Help us grow our Moa behaviour and sponsor 5 behaviour animation cycles that will be added to our Moa Park experience.
    We want to have a minimum of 50 bahaviour cycles for our Moa. Each animation is around 5secs long and will make the experience richer, deeper and more profound regarding birdlife education.
    You will get the chance to be included in the feedback cycle with the experts discussing the behaviour and how it needs to be altered and why.

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 5,000 or more About $4,339

    Help us add other Moas to the mix. Sponsor an additional Moa, Our current Moa is a North Island Giant Moa but there used to be other Moa species as well.
    Sponsor a Moa and help us add more birds to the park.
    You can name the bird and leave your virtual signature attached to our new addition to the park.

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 5,000 or more About $4,339

    We want to bring the Haast Eagle back! Help us develop additional extinct bird species and release them in the park.
    The Haast Eagle would be our favorite but you may have your own request of an extinct NZ bird you would like to see being brought back to life.
    Your donation will pay for the modelling and a few basic animation cycles.
    You can name the bird and leave your virtual signature attached to our new addition to the park.

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Funding period

- (30 days)