Two students have created an app inspired by Pokémon GO which they hope will help people connect with nature.
Instead of chasing Pikachu and Charmander, users of PocketPals will track 3D animated animals and learn how to identify British wildlife.
Danielle Connor, a zoology student and photographer at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus, and Matt Brown, an animation and visual effects student at Falmouth University, have created PocketPals – which should be available next summer.
With the popularity of Pokémon GO, a mobile phone game in which players find and capture fictional creatures, Danielle and Matt saw an opportunity to encourage people to discover the real wildlife around them.
By exploring and tracking 3D animated animals, users will find out about pine martens, ruby-tailed wasps and numerous other animals – learning their characteristics, habitats, conservation status and the threats they face.
Danielle, whose photography has been recognised in competitions including Marwell Photographer of the Year and the ZSL Photography Awards, said: “Children are becoming less connected with wildlife and natural environments. We hope this app can get people excited about real animals, and help inspire a new generation of animal lovers and environment stewards.
“Our target audience is teenagers and young adults, especially as the bond between the young generation and an interest in the outdoors is disappearing, but of course the app can be downloaded by anyone.”
The project has received £10,000 funding through the Environment Now grant that seeks 17-24 year olds to create projects that use digital solutions to help protect the environment.
The programme is managed by the National Youth Agency and is funded by O2 and the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund, and is part of the Our Bright Future.