By Rachael Berkey
"In case you were ever in doubt, the online world is actually powered by cats. And at one school in the United Kingdom, there's a cat running the school's world and teaching students and teachers alike about their environmental footprint through augmented reality. Meet Cinder, the cat who runs things at Trumpington Community College in Cambridge.
As originally reported by The Creator's Project, Cinder is the avatar of Trumpington Community College's building management system. She was created by a collective of architects, creative technologists, and designers at Umbrellium to engage students and teachers alike with their environment over the course of their education. Now that she is live, the community within this state of the art school interacts with her via an augmented reality 'mirror' in the main hall as well as their Chromebooks, where she pops up and pesters students to be fed (just like a real cat!). She feeds on solar energy that the building collects in real-time helping students learn about sustainability and the ways their school is impacting the environment around them.
Part mascot, part avatar for the sophisticated building management system, Cinder is a constantly growing and changing part of the environment around her. She responds to students gestures in the augmented reality screen, even rubbing against them as you can see in the photo up above, and sometimes just running off to find the solar energy that keeps her fed. Over time, she will be able to change her appearance and even has "Easter egg" accessories for the students to discover. For example, there's a very charming birthday hat in the video below to give you an idea.
"We wanted to find a creative way to help bring the building environment to life and give students a unique and engaging experience of the world around them. We are delighted that the students and staff have taken Cinder as their own digital pet," Umbrellium's founding partner, Usman Haque, said in a press release. While Cinder was created with a very real purpose of building monitoring and innovation in mind, she's also struck a cord with the staff and students at the school. Teachers talk about how engaged their students become while involved in the design process and how that interest has continued now that Cinder is live with students seeking out opportunities to use their Chromebooks in hopes that she will appear even when they aren't in class.
It will be very interesting to see how she grows and changes in the coming years and how much she can teach the students as she goes. Who knows? Maybe we're only a few innovative steps away from this kind of cat technology.
What do you think of Cinder?"
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