Showing all posts tagged #economics:

DNA Disco shows you which endangered animal you dance like and how you can protect it

Posted on May 30th, 2015

Shake your booty, save the penguin.

DNA Disco is a free mobile app to raise awareness of wildlife conservation by telling you which endangered animal you dance like, for example "you dance like a panda". It converts your dance moves into a DNA sequence, which is then searched against a database of real genes from endangered species to find the best match. You'll see the animal's conservation status and be able to support organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to protect the animal and its habitat.

TRY IT NOW: go to on your phone, press “Let’s Dance" and start dancing.

The challenge

The world’s endangered species are getting more endangered every day: we’ve lost 50% of the world's wildlife over the last 40 years.

Wildlife conservation isn't just something for fluffy bunny lovers. We're all affected by this. Saving wildlife means saving habitats and ecosystems. Ecosystems provide humans with clean air, pure water, food, medicines and raw materials such as wood. In 1997, these ecosystem services were valued at US$33 trillion per year, although the true value of the natural world is infinite because we can't live without it.

How can we create a real sense of urgency about this, without just scaring people away? And how can we do this most among the generation with the most to lose, young people worldwide?

The opportunity

DNA Disco is an idea for creating viral awareness among young people by tapping into things they already love: music, dance and social sharing. In just a few seconds, anyone can relate their own dance moves to the world’s endangered species. With just a bit of funding, we could start a movement.

Next steps

I have a beta version that works — you can try it at I want to improve this beta version by focussing on making it easier to understand, use and share.

What’s the app like?

Open the app. Do your dance. And in a few seconds, your moves are translated into a DNA sequence and matched to one of 14 endangered species.

Suddenly, you find you’re dancing like a panda. Or a snow leopard. Or a polar bear.

It simple, it’s physical, and it’s fun. It’s designed for sharing.

How it works

DNA Disco is a simple HTML5 game that matches movements made with a mobile phone to sequences of DNA belonging to endangered species. Once they’ve been matched with an animal the player is encouraged to adopt that animal through the WWF or sign up for WWF membership. Players are also able to share their result on social media.

The app uses open data from the European Nucleotide Archive. Genes are selected based on their relevance to the organism, for example the high density of myoglobin in dolphin muscle allows dolphins to stay underwater for long periods.

Food Waste Hero

Posted on January 23rd, 2014

Food Waste Hero is an early-stage prototype project for schools to raise awareness of food waste through behavioural economics, storytelling, design and technology. It features a Raspberry Pi connected device to weigh kitchen food waste bins and shows how households are doing compared to the UK average.

UK households waste 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes we purchase.

The core of the project is a device to "nudge" families to waste less. Many local authorities in the UK require domestic waste to be separated, so many households have a separate bin for food waste in their kitchen. By weighing this bin automatically, and giving real-time feedback on the device itself and on a web application about how the family is doing compared to the UK average, students learn about where food comes from and where waste ends up.

Food Waste Hero also includes a cartoon to portray the journey of a single banana from a plantation in Ecuador to a home in the UK. Connecting facts and figures to people and places encourages systems thinking, while stories engage our empathy and imagination.

In addition to showcasing interaction design, the Internet of Things (IoT) and behavioural economics, the prototype gives students the opportunity to build, test and modify a product that serves a real social and environmental need.

The following presentation was given to NIAB (National Institute of Agricultural Botany) in June 2013 in Cambridge UK - the presentation is also available with speaker notes:

Antony Quinn

Technology consultant, actor & improviser.