App brings Moa back to life

The world's first virtual moa park.
The world's first virtual moa park.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard is one step closer to having the beloved moa brought back to life, only this time instead of DNA being recovered, it's a prototype of an app.

A conservation park in Otorohanga is hosting a life-size 3D digital version in its own backyard.

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View: Otorohanga's life size 3D Moa

The biggest tourist attraction in Otorohanga, the Kiwi House, now hosts the world's first virtual moa park.

"It's the best rendition of a moa that you're ever going to see," says Roger Brady. "I know they're extinct, so this is the closet you're ever going to get."

It was created by software development company Augview.

"We are having a virtual moa that is overlaid over a real video fed from the camera of a digital device," says Augview development manager Melanie Langlotz.

You use your phone or tablet to interact with what you see.

"We've given the moa a GPS location in the rotary park," says Ms Langlotz. "And then from there on the moa has got a certain radius in, which it can move and interact with visitors."

To create the digital moa they used the Kiwi and other relatives of the moa to make it lifelike and give it a bit of a kick.

"All the ostriches, the emus and the cassowary are known for being really quite aggressive sometimes," says Kiwi House wildlife manager Lizzy Perrett. "They've got really strong, powerful legs."

Even though the life-size moa can follow you, chase you and peck you on the head if you're not careful, it is educational and kid-friendly.

"So they have to go off and chase the moa and find out more," says president of the Otorohanga Zoological Society Jo Russell.

"They have to explore. They have to think for themselves. There is a lot of problem solving and taking risks in a safe environment that makes the learning fun and engaging."

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