AnimalViz

AnimalViz

AnimalViz (formerly known as DoggyVision) is a mobile phone application that simulates animals' vision in real-time on the phone's video feed.

Problem:

Many animals' senses are difficult for humans to comprehend and empathize with. Science education lacks tools that enable students to adopt the perspective of another species, leading many students to form misconceptions about animal biology.


Goal:

Design a tool that enables students to engage in firsthand "perspective-taking" of other animals' visual senses in real-time using augmented reality. This will allow students to gain a more authentic understanding of animal biology, and to help them develop empathy for other species.

An image of a puppy and toys with average human color perception.
The same image with dog color perception.
Many people believe that dogs and cats only see in black and white. This is false.
User Research:
Focus group investigating families' curiosities about their pets' senses

Our research team led a focus group to investigate what curiosities families have about their pets' senses and experiences. We facilitated group discussion using pre-scripted prompts, and used s a post-it activity where families wrote down responses and questions to prompts we wrote on the board.

We found that families were particularly interested in how their pets see and hear the world. Participants mentioned the desire to use technology to view the world from their pet's perspective so they can understand how they see and experience the world.

A moment during the focus group discussion.
Design:

Based on user insight, we designed an application called DoggyVision, an augmented reality app that helps people see the world with the visual perception of a dog. DoggyVision could be used as a handheld device, and also with Google Cardboard to become an Augmented Reality headmounted display (HMD).

We also developed a prototype by creating Snapchat lenses uses Lens Studio. If you have Snapchat, you can follow the instructions here to get DoggyVision and KittyVision on your phone!

Evaluation:
Using DoggyVision with families to spur scientific inquiry and discovery

We held a three hour workshop with families at a museum. Five families participated (8 adults, 9 kids). We opened the workshop with a group discussion about what questions families had about their dogs' visual senses. We then sent each family out on a DoggyVision scavenger hunt where they took photographs of different scenes indoors and outdoors. Afterwards, we facilitated a group sticky-note discussion about what they observed and other questions they had about their pets (or other animals).

We found DoggyVision to be an effective means in engaging families to scientifically think about the differences in theirs and their pets senses. The families were curious about other species of pets (and non-pets) such as fish, cats, birds, reptiles, and more.

A mother and daughter exploring the outdoors with DoggyVision while taking notes.
Families' post-its from our group discussion.
Design revisions and next steps: From DoggyVision to AnimalViz

I am currently working on new designs for AnimalViz which will offer firsthand perspective-taking of vision like DoggyVision, but offer more species' senses to experience. In addition, AnimalViz will simplify the process of saving images and videos. We also received feedback from teachers that a data collection and visualization tool would be nice to have in AnimalViz for classroom work, and I am incoprating this into the designs as well.

Component level wireflow demonstrating how to choose an animal filter and take a photograph/video.
More animalViz mockups and component level wireflows.
Publications

“Our Dog Probably Thinks Christmas is Really Boring”: Re-mediating Science Education for Feminist-Inspired Inquiry
Annie Kelly, Christine Chang, Christian Hill, Mary West, Mary Yoder, Joseph Polman, Shaun Kane, Michael Eisenberg, & R. Benjamin Shapiro
In Proceedings of the 2020 ICLS International Conference of the Learning Sciences

Other Media

A blog post I wrote for how to install the Snapchat DoggyVision and KittyVision lenses.

Description of the grant funded project on the ATLAS Institute website.

Daily Camera article talking about the project.