It’s the middle of the night in the San Andreas mountains and a deer is wandering through the undergrowth. The crickets are really loud, sometimes an owl hoots, and traffic can be heard in the distance beyond the regular clip-clop of hooves. The animal heads downhill towards a cluster of houses, gallops through a courtyard and runs out onto a highway where it’s narrowly missed by a speeding car. For a while it wanders slowly down the middle of the road as vehicles slow to a stop to let it pass until eventually, inevitably, it’s hit by a truck. But count to three and it’s upright again, unharmed, and trotting down the verge once more.
You’re watching a deer cam with a difference. Animal cams are generally popular because they let us watch creatures in the wild and from a safe distance, a reality TV for birds, bears, and numerous other species. But the San Andreas Deer Cam is being live streamed direct not from a forest or a woodland clearing, but from a video game. Artist Brent Watanabe has programmed the animal directly into Grand Theft Auto V, and you can watch it live on Twitch TV. Needless to say, in that kind of environment it frequently gets shot or hit by a car, but since it’s indestructible it just pops up again and keeps on running. It’s not completely immortal, however, because the project is due to end on April 20th 2016.
Watanabe explains that the San Andreas Deer Cam is a live video stream from a computer running a hacked modded version of Grand Theft Auto V. The mod creates a deer and follows it as it wanders throughout the 100 square miles of San Andreas, a fictional state in GTA V based on California. The deer has been programmed to control itself and make its own decisions, with no one actually playing the video game. The deer is ‘playing itself’, with all activity unscripted… and unexpected. If you donate money to the Deer Cam, it goes directly to The Humane Society. Find out more at his website and make sure you see it before the closing date.
https://player.twitch.tv/?channel=bwatanabeWatch live video from bwatanabe on www.twitch.tv
Greenapps&web is a directory of apps and devices related to environmental issues and includes many useful mobile apps about nature and the outdoors. It’s a fantastic resource for anyone interested in nature and technology, and includes several animal-focused apps, a subject which has proved extremely popular here at Technobiophilia. Here are just a few:
- Hear a bird but don’t know what it is? Identify its song with the AI-based Warblr.
- Let wild animals invade your phone with Zookazam, an educational application which uses augmented reality to show 3D models of different wild animals.
- Install Whispers of the Wild and feel the call of Africa through the sounds of some of the most iconic animals living national and natural parks of southern and eastern Africa.
Or, on a different note, if you live in London and worry about your health, you can measure air pollution levels in your neighbourhood with CityAir. It allows you to search by name, define a route and see to what levels of pollution you are going to be subjected during the journey and review information on bus, bike, taxi, etc. as well as current levels of contamination of all gases and the annual nitrogen dioxide levels.
Find interesting mobile apps about nature and the outdoors
There are dozens of interesting desktop and mobile apps to discover at Greenapps&web. It was founded just over a year ago by Judit Urquijo, who lives in the Basque Country in Spain and originally trained as an environmental technician. She worked in environmental engineering for fifteen years before switching her focus to content curation and community management. Her website is designed to build awareness and share best practice from around the world and it has already become a valuable resource for people interested in building technobiophilia into their lives. Judit writes every entry in both Spanish and English.
Something I really like about this particular site is that it’s divided into iOS, Android, and web – such a timesaver. If you’ve developed a mobile app you’d like her to review, get in touch with Judit!