Race a crocodile and see like a bat!

This week our visitors have been racing crocodiles and using echolocation to hunt like a bat in order to help us test two of the interactives under development for the Royal Museum Project.

Animal Sprint is a software interactive powered with an exercise bike which will allow visitors to race against a series of animals and perhaps be surprised at how fast some of them can move over land. You might expect the cheetah to have an unfair advantage but how do you think you would do against the crocodile or the hippo?

Testing with a stand-in bike while the real bike is being built
Testing with a stand-in bike while the real bike is being built.

Meanwhile, in the Supersenses section of the Animal Senses gallery, the challenge is how to design an interactive that will allow visitors to use a ‘sense’ that humans don’t have! Bats use echolocation to ‘see’ world around them. The bat generates a high pitched sound which bounces back from obstacles depending on how close the obstacle is. The bat’s brain takes this information and builds a picture in their mind which they use for navigation and hunting.

The software we are working on allows visitors to record a sound which they then ‘emit’ using a button as they fly around a virtual world with a joystick trying to catch moths. It sounds complicated, but the question is, is it too complicated? Around twenty families tried this activity last week and our summer intern Anna Downie is currently working her way through the feedback to see if the concept is working or what changes we might need to make.

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