DNA Disco is a free app to raise awareness of wildlife conservation by telling you which endangered animal you dance like. 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.
DNA Disco converts your movement into the four letters of DNA: tilt your phone left for A, right for T, forwards for C and backwards for G. This is your dance DNA sequence. We then use the Levenshtein distance algorithm to search a database of real genes from endangered species to find the best match to your dance DNA.
We use open data from the European Nucleotide Archive and select genes that tell a story about the animal. For example the high density of myoglobin in dolphin muscle allows dolphins and other sea mammals to stay underwater for long periods.
DNA Disco shows you the animal's conservation status, and gives you a chance to support organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to protect the animal and its habitat.
Why? Because 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. 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.
Presented at the UK's Cambridge Science Festival in March 2017.