Bring home the wild

Updated: Apr 13, 2020, 09:52 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

So what if they can't step out? Augmented reality is helping Indian parents turn the house into a safe space for kids to meet animals

You can access the Google 3D AR animal feature on your smartphone
You can access the Google 3D AR animal feature on your smartphone

For many parents, summer was supposed to be about ice creams and visiting the zoo with their kids, or finally, setting off on that family safari. Instead, now they are stuck at home, thinking up ways to engage the children. Even if they can't step out, Indian parents have been bringing home tigers, pandas, crocodiles and other wild animals with Google's 3D augmented reality (AR) feature. According to Google Trends, though the feature debuted in 2019, there's been a spike in searches for 'Google 3D animals' in India since March-end. All you need is a smartphone and a steady Internet connection to turn the house into a virtual jungle. Kandivali-based private sector professional Prashanth Pereira, who brought in his five-year-old son's birthday with a few 3D four-legged friends, tells us what they liked.

Engage with the family
You can access the feature by typing the name of the animal in the Google Chrome app in an Android phone and in the Google Chrome browser in iPhone. Pereira says that although it took some time for him to get used to the feature, his son, a junior KG student, took to it instantly. "Vikrant was getting birthday calls, but he was too consumed by his new friends." The 49-year-old adds that it was one of the most engaging activities they had indulged in since the lockdown started. "The family can bond over it. You can increase the size and change the position to surprise each other or tell stories," he says.

You can access the Google 3D AR animal feature on your smartphone

Learn about the wild
Since Vikrant is at an age where he is learning about animals, Pereira says the feature works as an educational tool, too. While in a book or a video, one can only point to animals, kids can interact with them through the feature. "Apart from moving around, the animals also make noises; you can hear the lion roar or the panda munch on leaves. You can position them however you want. I brought the shark in through a dark bathroom door to add to the effect and Vikrant was swimming on the bed with it."

Make new friends
Pereira believes that the feature is a good way to familiarise children with the wild. Since Vikrant hasn't been to the zoo or a national park yet, it was his first "live" interaction with the animal kingdom. "It's like going to the zoo, but even better since you can play with the animals. This eliminates the fear of wild animals in children," Pereira shares, recommending the feature for kids up to eight years of age.

Prashanth and Vikram Pereira
Prashanth and Vikram Pereira

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