General
12 Mar 2012

Devolve Me App Evolves to a Million Downloads

The popular Open University app, ‘Devolve Me’, has today hit one million downloads.

The face morph game which was launched as part of the Darwin celebrations, allows people to see how they may have looked as an ancient ancestor from Australopithecus afarensis (3.7million years ago) to a Homo heidelbergensis (500,000 years ago).

Commenting on the success, David Meadows, Head of Marketing Communications for The Open University said, “When we first planned the tool we were keen to capitalise on the interest in the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth. Initially the app generated a year’s worth of undergraduate science prospectus requests in just a few weeks - which was staggering enough - but three years later we are still seeing around ten thousand visitors every month. It’s ironic in a way that an app which shows us devolving as a species should fuel a desire for people to learn, achieve and ultimately evolve to the next part of their lives. Perhaps the next step should be an ‘Evolve me’ App which would give a vision of where you could be in ten years’ time through studying with The Open University.”

David Robinson, Senior Lecturer in Biological Science at The Open University who provided the scientific advice for the app said "The great thing about the application is that while providing a fun way of changing photographs, it also reminds people of the time periods over which humans have evolved and the sort of changes that have taken place in our appearance. Part of the appeal is that you can feel that you are coming face to face with your ancestors."

Prof. Jonathan Silvertown, who directed The Open University’s Darwin events, said “We are one of the youngest species on the planet and without doubt we are still evolving. The Devolve Me app wraps science in a fun package. What could be better than that?”

The app was created by 20:20 Agency, and experienced a surge in traffic when Stephen Fry posted a message on the micro- blogging site Twitter calling it ‘Coolissimo’. This was re-tweeted across the globe resulting in Devolve Me becoming the OU’s most visited webpage. An unexpected benefit of the app is that schools are also using it as an extra resource in the classroom.

The OU has a strong presence on many social networking platforms including an official @openuniversity Twitter account, its own You Tube channel and regularly updated content on iTunesU. The University also has a vast portfolio of free content available from its OpenLearn platform, including free study units, games and features www.open.ac.uk/openlearn

Notes to Editors:
The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.7 million students and has more than 256,000 current students, including 18,000 overseas, learning in their own time using course materials, online activities and content, web-based forums and tutorials and through tutor groups and residential schools. Visit http://www.open.ac.uk/

The Devolve Me application can be found here - http://www.open.ac.uk/darwin/devolve-me.php

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