You’ve heard of Walking with Dinosaurs, well now Walking with Woolly Mammoths is nearly a reality too!

Colchester Zoo is currently hosting an augmented reality Walking with Mammoths experience for all its visitors to enjoy. People have been queuing to see the eagerly awaited new concept, and have been amazed at what they saw. One family said “we really felt the mammoths were in the room with us, our 7 year old daughter was so mesmerised by what she saw, she actually tried to stroke them!”

The site at Colchester Zoo where you can interact with these beasts, is next to the elephant enclosure, and as you enter you are taken through snow topped Christmas trees glistening in the light, to a clearing in the forest where……. the woolly mammoths come in to to say hello. Children and adults alike can be seen talking to these digital characters as though they are actually in the room too.

Obviously the iconic, mysterious Woolly Mammoths have been extinct for thousands of years but with advances in technology, Colchester based firm CGEye has developed this visitor experience for us all to enjoy, a whole new living world that’s extinct! Crazy as it may sound, that’s what Augmented Reality (AR) does, it superimposes digital content onto the real world through the camera of a mobile or webcam. Paul Smith, CGEye’s Production Director, says “we believe that Colchester Zoo is the first in the country to platform AR featuring extinct animals and we are excited about developing new content for the leisure industry. The possibilities are endless and while the Woolly Mammoth Experience at Colchester Zoo is fun and playful, there is a huge educational benefit to be tapped into.” We all know about using AR in films that are set in the distant future, but this is set in our distant past.

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So how can AR help your business?

AR is an exciting new addition to the visitor’s experience of a traditional zoo. It gives you an innovative, engaging, stimulating and educational experience which really pushes the boundaries of technology. The software lets computer generated images be superimposed over real life and can be text, video or 3D images – the possibilities are endless.

Increase the enjoyment of the experience

AR creates an opportunity for young people to interact with animals in a way in which they are familiar and understand, as this generation is very techno savvy and demand instant gratification eg the animals schedule does not always correspond to the particular time of our visit and we all know that kids get bored easily these days and if the elephant does not want to come out and see the world, with AR the world can “go in and see him”. So many times I’ve heard kids at a zoo shouting to their parents “mum, dad, there’s nothing in this cage!” well using AR should negate disappointment and produce jaw dropping experiences that push the limits of our imagination.

Educational experience

Whilst in the past the only educational medium was in the written form as posters and videos etc, but these are all flat so AR adds that third dimension of reality which excites and encourages kids to be creative and interactive, which in turn will make them learn and understand the exhibit more easily. Engaging and stimulating the audience is key to learning. AR allows smaller creatures such as insects to be featured in a far more dramatic and exciting way on a much larger scale. At Colchester Zoo the Woolly Mammoth is featured but it could be a Giant Ground Sloth, a Saber Toothed Tiger or even the giant Moa bird from New Zealand which can be positioned next to their nearest modern relative to take learning to a whole new level.

Increase Visitor numbers

By increasing the level of enjoyment of the exhibit, and improving the learning potential, visitor numbers should increase not only with private families but educational establishments too. I wish my school visits to a zoo could have been this much fun!

With AR visitors are encouraged to have photos taken eg with an extinct mammoth and when they post these images on social media platforms this will produce excitement and intrigue with their peer group who will hopefully also want to have this experience for themselves and visit the zoo.

As you can see AR can influence and enhance your business in so many ways and can be tailored for all individual needs and wishes and obviously not just in the animal world. This can be rolled out in so many ways across the leisure industry for example in museums. I would welcome the opportunity to show you a short film we have made which will show you the many more benefits that AR can give you.