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YOUMaine: Hannah Dodson’s creates PuppAR web app

Hannah Dodson is a fourth year at the University of Maine. She is a new media and graphic design student.

“I was originally looking for graphic design but we only have a minor so I was looking for something to fit with that. New media sounded interesting,” Dodson said.

Dodson is originally from Virginia and came to Maine after she graduated high school. She attended Kennebec Valley Community College before transferring to UMaine in 2019. 

For her capstone project, she has been developing a web app called PuppAR. The app is meant to be a virtual pet dog. In the app, users are given a virtual dog they can move around and change the size of. Using augmented reality, the dog will appear in the view given by a phone camera. There’s a button that has the dog cycle through a number of animations. In addition, there are four interactive images that can be accessed through the paper flyers Dodson printed out. There is a water bowl, a food bowl, a rope to play with, and a bed. When hovering the camera over the target images, they appear as AR images for the dog to use. Dodson recognizes that her project is far from perfect.

“I’m trying to upgrade it right now to have more interactions, outside of just hitting the button,” Dodson said.

Dodson is also working to add an editable name display, as well as new color patterns for the dog. It will be the same model, however she can add different color fur as well as pattern to the colors. Different breeds of dogs is a goal that is too far for her to reach at the moment. 

Dodson’s flyers, which include instructions, the QR code for the web app and the QR code for the feedback survey, can be found on tables in the IMRC building. She is working on spreading it around more.

In working on the project, Dodson went through many iterations of what she thought she would like to do for a project. Originally, Dodson had wanted to create a social media for dogs.

“Trying to maintain a social media for dogs was way too complicated,” Dodson said.

Her second idea was a step-tracking app with Pokemon Go-like AR features. She realized holding your phone out while trying to walk would be inconvenient. 

Dodson has a background with mobile design and thus wanted to try something involving a web app, which is what she’s working on now. According to Dodson, it’s best when a senior capstone is also a passion project.

In designing the app, Dodson has spread posters that contain a QR code to visit the web app. There is also a google form where people can give feedback on the web app.

“A really big part of this deployment phase is getting feedback. So far I’ve gotten around 20 responses,” said Dodson.

Dodson’s deployment phase will be going until around the second week of April. 

“We’ve extended the date so originally it was supposed to be done like now but now we have more time,” Dodson said. “The model now is one I’ve purchased. I tried to make my own but it was very hard.”

Dodson noted that she wanted a model with the familiarity of someone’s own dog. She emphasized that one reason for the app is as a replacement pet for people who can’t take care of one.

“Just sort of the idea of having a pet that you can take with you and not have the restraints of a real one,” Dodson said.

Dodson plans to reach out to senior living and assisted living centers to see what they think of the app. The QR Code can be found here.


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