One of the biggest challenges for parents and teachers in a digital-first world is keeping their children engaged in school.

According to a 2013 University College London report, up to 10 percent of the population is affected by learning disabilities.

ZooKazam is bringing animals and the imagination of children to life with their educational and engaging app. It features more than 40 holographic and interactive animals that are coupled with information about each animal and environmental scene selections.

Navid Yavari, co-founder and one of the creative members of the Atlanta-based ZooKazam, joined [a]listdaily to talk about his “magical animals.”

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How did the idea for ZooKazam come about? 

Our team was working on a new product launch for a designer art toy and discovered a way to implement AR into the marketing scheme. We brainstormed on a new application that would showcase the high-quality work our team is able to create, and ZooKazam was born. 

Why did you choose “magical animals?”

Animals are universally loved. This gave us a chance to appeal to a wide variety of adults and children. Later we discovered that many teachers were using our app in classrooms and so we focused our app to provide more educational content.

How are parents, and children, reacting to the AR experience? 

The response from teachers is ‘wow!’ There is a huge wow factor in our app. All audiences are amazed at the technology and find the realistic feel of the animals very intriguing. Once children get hooked, they are very eager to take selfies with the AR animals and share their videos and pictures with their friends on social media.

How is ZooKazam being used in the classroom? 

Teachers are sharing the app on iPads within a classroom setting. ZooKazam gets the attention of students and then they can learn about the animals with infographics and voiceovers that tell them about each animal. Teachers can also choose from two content options, one for a more grown-up voiceover and one for children to listen to.

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What makes ZooKazam different from other learning tools currently only the market?

Clearly the attention-grabbing effect of ZooKazam is the key to get children in the mood to try out the app. Visual graphics are fundamental to learning. Studies have shown that visual learning is important to understanding a subject. With ZooKazam, the 3D visuals are far better that 2D-printed books and apps.

One of the biggest benefits for augmented and virtual reality is that it empowers those who yearn for education. What practices are you employing to capture that audience?  

We are getting more and more support from educators. Most of our new content is coming from teachers that have asked ZooKazam to add more information to help students learn. We are attending more teacher conferences and participating in teacher blogs to promote ZooKazam within the classroom.

How does AR enable content creators better than VR? 

AR is far easier and cheaper to deploy in the classroom. Most classrooms are already using tablets and smartphones that can easily run ZooKazam. VR requires very expensive equipment and takes too long to set up. The current VR headsets are not very user friendly and many doubt its future without further refinement.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan.