Virry - play with real animals
A unique and captivating app to introduce children to the natural world and a variety of animals
The premise upon which the Virry app is based is simple but unique - allow children to learn about animals and the natural environment by interacting and observing real, live animals. By choosing to provide videos of the animals and live streams, rather than animated versions, the developers of the app have elevated their idea from something that would have been good and entertaining to a much deeper educational experience. The level of engagement that children experience in using this app is great, and allows them to think and question in new ways.
The Virry app itself is free, although the bulk of the content is not included in the free download - you can perform basic interactions with the lion, and watch the live stream - but to experience the wealth of content available, in app purchases are available for more animals (rhino, meerkats and giraffes). The in app purchases are protected, although to open the screen requires you to answer a very simple addition calculation, meaning that this is not necessarily very secure if you leave children to access the app unsupervised.
The app is split into two main types of content - live webcams and interactions with pre-recorded videos - as well as a few additional features including options to personalise the app, a diary to keep track of your observations and options to share content.
As well as the four main animals within the app - lion, rhino, meerkats and giraffes - there are a few extra live streams included with white tigers, wild dogs, zebras, gazelle, antelope and birds to watch. The live streams are each in the form of very high quality videos, and the cameras are well positioned so that there is often (although not always) something going on for children to see within the enclosure. Surprisingly, children can have a lot of patience when there are no animals to see on the screen, and whilst they wait they can spot details such as small birds and trees that can be compared with the natural environment at home. Occasionally, the camera will pan or zoom to give a better frame.
Whilst watching the live streams is very interesting and engaging in itself, it becomes particularly worthwhile once the children learn to populate their diary. They do this by taking a screenshot (instructions are included within the app) and then adding details of what they have seen, such as the type of animal, the activities they have observed and further notes of their own. These diary entries build up into a record of observations and notes made over time, with this feature providing a valuable educational opportunity.
Apart from the live streams, the other main aspect of the app is the interactions with animals. This uses real videos of the same animals shown in the live streams, which ties the experience together nicely. Again, the videos are of a very high quality, and now are also accompanied by a clear and interesting narration. Throughout this section, children get the chance to help care for the animals by feeding, playing and so on. The app uses simple controls such as shaking the iPad, getting children to shout loudly or touching the screen to choose between different locations to explore. The whole app is set up so that children can easily access content themselves. Throughout these interactive sections, children earn badges which they can review later and also collect points to get to different levels. Overall, these sections provide children with a lot of educational content whilst remaining engaging and simple to use.
As a complete package, this app is a novel and captivating way to introduce children to unfamiliar animals, as well as starting to develop scientific thinking and observational skills. With the live elements, there is always something new to see, even once the interactive sections of the app have been exhausted. This app would be a brilliant addition to any household including young children, or in a classroom environment.
From the Developer
Shake and tilt your iPad to feed a real lion, make a baby rhino run, meerkats dig or a giraffe lick salt. You can shout to get their attention, or keep still and silent to calm them down.
Best App for Kids and Family 2015 - People's Choice Webby Award.
For parents and grandparents to discover nature with children
Hurry up – games with lovely Meerkats are on promo price £2.29 for the rest of Summer!
- Real animals playing with you: shake and tilt your iPad to feed a real lion, make a baby rhino run, meerkats dig or a giraffe lick salt. You can shout to get their attention, or keep still and silent to calm them down.
- Watch them live: HD cameras in their enclosures always follow the animal, zoom in and out, thanks to our team of professional operators who remotely control the cameras.
- Developing creativity, empathy and other social and learning skills. It was created in collaboration with Prof. Gail F. Melson, an authority on children's development, leader in the field of Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) at Purdue University, USA and author of “Where the Wild Things Are: Animals in the Lives of Children”.
Professor Gail F. Melson, PhD
“At first, I was dubious that having children spend more time on an iPad would help connect them to wild creatures, but interactive apps can bring images of wild animals – in high definition—close up and vivid, while at the same time, not disturbing the animals. The sense of engagement with these animals can heighten children’s commitment to caring for and preserving them”
Steve Backshall, BAFTA-winning naturalist, BBC TV's Deadly 60
"This is a terrific gateway to the wild world, a chance for kids to reach out to animals on the other side of the world. A young audience engage most effectively with wildlife when they feel like they have an actual connection to the animals, as if they can reach out and touch them, actually interacting with wild wonders. This ap enables the user to do just that, watching exotic and iconic animals in real time, taking part as their real lives and dramas unfold, whilst learning hot facts and playing games that let them feel like they are a part of the animal’s world."
Dominic West, Actor
"I spent all morning on Virry with my two boys and we love it. We fed a lion and watched a rhino live all from our living room sofa! It's a safe, educational and utterly compelling way to learn about the animals we love. Get on it, it's brilliant!"
Svetlana Dragaeva, the head of Virry Team, trained educator and film producer
“In early childhood, the development of empathy and perspective-taking is key to good social relationships with other children and adults, as well as school-related learning. Engaging with animals can be an effective tool for developing these skills, since an animal’s needs and emotions are clearly different from a child’s”
*Animals are filmed in Al Ain Zoo in UAE, which follows strong animal welfare ethics and has serious interests in conservation projects.
**Virry supports charities and foundations for children with special needs, granting them free and unlimited access to all Virry animal content. Just drop us an email at email@example.com