Krikey is an app that builds empathy for gorillas through augmented reality.

Jenna Lane/KCBS Radio

Sisters Attempt To Build Empathy For Gorillas Gets Big Name Support

Jenna Lane
June 08, 2019 - 10:01 pm

Two Bay Area sisters have figured out a way to immerse smartphone users in the Rwandan jungle, and build empathy for the plight of endangered gorillas. Their augmented reality app has also caught the attention of a television star. 

Since Ellen DeGeneres told her audience about the gorillas app from San Francisco-based Krikey, CEO Jhanvi Shriram has heard stories of the augmented reality experience bringing users to tears.

"It's been exciting, even in the few days since launch, to see very young people playing the game and playing it as a game, and other folks on the other end of the age spectrum coming in and playing it as an experience," she said.

Her sister, CTO Ketaki Shriram, fired up her smart phone to show how it works. 

"So there's our baby gorilla, he just lay down to take a little break," she said, aiming her phone's camera toward an office wall. 

The screen fills with green foliage and a fluffy, wide-eyed gorilla that starts walking away.

"In augmented reality, we're using something called computer vision, which tracks the position of virtual objects relative to the physical world," said Ketaki . "So you can see that the gorilla is walking around, just as though he was in the room here with us."

Krikey's founders hope that as users engage in gorillas' behavior, they'll be moved to contribute to conservation of their jungle homes.