New Eaton Canyon Mobile App Game Combines Nature and Augmented Reality

Published : Saturday, June 17, 2017 | 4:16 AM

Pasadena’s Eaton Canyon Nature Center launched a new mobile application Friday that encourages hikers to bring their smartphones along on their daytripping journeys as a way to learn more about the City’s natural resource in a fun and interactive way.

The educational technology platform and app, Agents of Discovery, kids become Agents on a “Mission” solving site-specific, geo-triggered Challenges to get kids active and learning about the world around them by using state of the art augmented reality features that brings Eaton Canyon’s surroundings to life on screen.

An excited group attended the app's rollout on Friday, June 16, 2017.

“Connecting technology and nature, for many, may seem like an untraditional match. In this day and age, kids are on their phones so we are trying to meet them where they are,” explained an Eaton Canyon Nature Center spokespeson.

“It’s often very hard to see everything when you visit this park so a great thing about the Agents of Discovery App is that this is a way and a forum that we can reach people that we wouldn’t necessarily reach.”

Agents of Discovery is a free mobile application that is available for Android and Apple devices and does not require the use of Wifi or data to play.

“The game is really designed to get kids outdoors, active and learning simultaneously. They can’t play at home and they can’t be on the couch. They have to be at a location,” explained

There are currently 19 locations in Southern California where users can logon and adventure in local parks.

“This is really the language of kids. They seem to instinctively know how to use it,” said Hildenbrandt.

The game is similar to Pokemon GO, according to Hildenbrandt, where animated characters appear in what’s called augmented reality where they exist inside the screen of the device in Eaton Canyon’s natural settings.

Users, or “agents”, will go on missions that are geo-tagged throughout the canyon and along the trails.

“Our world is moving so fast towards being completely technology centric so instead of shying away from it, we need to start adopting it and using it as a tool and supporting that language in allowing to help our quest to get kids excited about the world around them,” Hildenbrandt explained.

The app selection may help hikers identify bird songs, history of natural rockfalls and waterfalls, plant survival and more.

“It helps make nature accessible by using technology. Games are another way of helping people think about information,” said Eaton Canyon Nature Center Associates Board Member Keasa Footracer.

“The game helps people pay attention more ironically to the world around them using a screen,” Footracer added.

The app also serves as a way to inform the general public about the Eaton Canyon features, which up until now, was only fully attainable by a limited number of trail guides and docents.

“It kind of makes a virtual trail guide,”explained Footracer. “People can go on the trail and you can unlock challenges that give you more information about the world around you and help you make sense of it.”

To learn more about the Agents of Discovery App, visit https://www.discoveryagents.net/.

For information about Eaton Canyon Nature Center, visit http://www.ecnca.org/.

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