Nov 01. 2021

HMS Developer Story—Shaping the Future of Birds with Games

The natural ecosystem for birds is being threatened and the biodiversity damaged. This raises questions to how developers and technologies can contribute to bird conservation. Zhu Chenqing, a software engineering junior at Soochow University, and her team developed a gaming app — Commensalism — to bring awareness in environmental protection.

HMS Developer Story: Shaping the Future of Birds with Games

Student Developers Code to Protect the Nature

Zhu Chenqing has always held a strong interest in wildlife, especially birds. In her free time, Zhu likes to go hiking in the mountains, and is a keen photographer, and has taken many photos of natural landscapes. Being closer to nature makes her think about our relationship with the environment. After a news report on bird injuries in nature reserves, she and her several classmates who happened to share the same ambition decided to build a fun and engaging puzzle game that educates users on birds. With this, the idea for the Commensalism app was born.

HMS Developer Story: Shaping the Future of Birds with Games

Daily discussion of the major team of the Commensalism app

"We always wanted to build a game but would not think of a perfect idea. But now, we're ready." Zhu said.

Commensalism is designed to help users think more about how humans and birds coexist. It is a gaming app where the user plays as a bird conservationist, who needs to perform tasks, such as birds-watching, promoting knowledge about birds, reporting on birds' current status, and visiting bird shelters, to increase their credits and thrive the bird habitats. The game gives educational content about birds, helps users think of strategies to improve the environment, and demonstrates how human activity impacts the natural habitat.

The app is designed to help users learn, asking questions such as: What is the ancestor of goose? How many mice can an owl eat in a year? The answers to these questions, and more, can be found on Commensalism.

HUAWEI Student Developers: Opening a New World of Possibilities

Independently developing an app for the first time was a big challenge for the students. The team set up their development on a minor platform, and soon ran into problems when integrating the capabilities of HMS Core. What's worse, answers to these problems were hidden deep in the Internet. Fortunately, they were not alone. The HUAWEI Student Developers program gives the team access to the ecosystem of Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), offering online and offline technical salons and selected courses, allowing the team to discuss technologies and share experience with other student developers. The program gives a one-stop platform for the latest solutions and knowledge that can push the app to the next level.

HMS Developer Story: Shaping the Future of Birds with Games

Activity of HUAWEI Student Developers

Zhu noted how the Huawei technical support team showed great patience and support to guide the team to the high-quality, open capabilities of HMS. Commensalism integrated multiple capabilities of the HMS ecosystem to facilitate key in-game functions, such as triggering different activities based on the user's location.

The student team innovated for half a year, and despite missing different deadlines, the first version of Commensalism was released on HUAWEI AppGallery. In fact, when the first version was launched, the team had already started to plan for the next version. They aimed to integrate more HMS capabilities and popular technologies, such as AR-powered tech, to deliver lifelike, immersive experience. What's more, the team planned to use computer vision tech to achieve bird identification by category.

HMS Developer Story: Shaping the Future of Birds with Games

Learn to live with birds harmoniously via the game

"If we run into any technical issues, we know that Huawei's technical support team will be there anytime to resolve the problems. This is a freeing experience — now, our minds are open to new possibilities, without the worry of failing." Zhu and her team are confident about future releases, and hope their user base will take a proactive step in bird protection in the future.