The Virtual Savannah is a system developed through my 8th and 10th semester in collaboration with Aalborg Zoo. The system's purpose is to educate pupils from primary schools about the African ecology and dilemmas like poaching. The Virtual Savannah is now an open ongoing project for students at Aalborg University - to read more about the participants check AAU's vbn here.

The Virtual Savannah 1.0

The first iteration of the Virtual Savannah was an investigation aimed for the visitors at Aalborg Zoo. The system would help visitors understand how the animals actually would behave in their natural environment. This was accomplished through 3D visualizations of an African savannah with several iconic animals such as; lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest etc. The visitor could explore the 1 km2 virtual savannah and learn about the animals by interacting with a touch screen that served both as input and feedback device. 

Our initial observations and tests provided much positive feedback, especially amongst children. Aalborg Zoo recognized this potential and presented us with the possibility to change the aim from visitors to school children, hence the Virtual Savannah 2.0. In addition to the academic work the project received a lot of media exposure, including being the fundation for a business idea that went into the final in applied technology at the national event called Venture Cup Idea Competition 2011. Links to the media exposure and additional images can be found further down on this page.

The Virtual Savannah 2.0

Through the feedback and results from the first savannah a turn in focus was made with version 2.0 of the Virtual Savannah. In close collaboration with Aalborg Zoo and it's Skoletjeneste an attempt to measure the capabilities of interactive systems' knowledge transfer was conducted. In order to gain insights into how the children use and navigate the Virtual Savannah, in the project there was concurrently prototyped a framework for logging user information as quantifiable data. In comparison with traditional observation techniques, the logging system can show a hidden corpus of data, which is inspected from techniques visualizing it as information visualization. Subsequently there was provided design approaches for a further use of the logging tool, and share insights into the data handling pipeline. In the project there was provided details behind the analysis, design, implementation and testing of the system in situ on 4th grade children. The results detail findings of the system’s potential as a functional prototype for conveying information, and the results show that children with low prior knowledge on the subject of African ecology have improved knowledge one week after the use of Virtual Savannah if compared with their prior knowledge. The master thesis also contributed with several academic publications, which can be seen further down on the page.

The future of The Virtual Savannah

As a conclusion on my master thesis, the Virtual Savannah was a great experience. But still things could be done differently or the focus could have been another. The future for the Virtual Savannah is therefore very open. To accommodate this a vbn project for the Virtual Savannah has been created, with the purpose of letting students contribute to the system and thereby progress. To read more about the vbn project and how to participate check the details here.

Gallary: 

Demo:

Coming soon.

 

Publications:

 

Media coverage:

DR P4 (radio interview)

TV2NORD (Lokal nyhederne)

NordJyske (Avis)

Uddannelse Uden Grænser (Messe)

Future people / IT-Vest (Messe)

AAU Matchmaking (Nyhedsblad)

AAU.dk (Forside artikel)

Videnskab.dk (Artikel)

... and additional other technology oriented websites.