Responsive Augmented Reality

February 12th, 2013

Augmented Reality provides us with new ways to interact and engage with digital objects in the real world. In fact, I’m finding it difficult to think of another technology that allows this cross-over between real and physical worlds to exist, at least in the context I’m about to discuss.

In the video below, there are two 3D animated characters; Metaio Man (a resource from metaio’s AR SDK) and his evil twin, infected with Uranium making him both volatile and highly reactive!

If I was pre-teen and collecting cards was my thing, I’d rather enjoy seeing them come to life via AR. I’d enjoy it even more if my characters could fight with my opponents’ characters and I could win their cards through a series of points, special moves and other ‘collectibles’. Nice idea for a simple schoolyard game!

The characters in this instance have a number of predefined animations. Each one can be triggered based on user interaction or, as shown here, by the proximity of another character. By moving the characters together, each one attached to its own unique marker, the characters react and trigger the next sequence of events.

Now if you replaced the characters with something else in a classroom environment, you can start imagining new scenarios that have educational benefits. For instance, each card could show a chemical element; place them together to form a chemical compound and to see its properties. Or you can present various metals to different solutions to see how they react.

Using AR to learn the basics of chemistry, physics or biology has the potential to open up new doors of discovery and improve learning. The physical act of moving one item into the space of another to gain a reaction is nothing new; I did it at school and remember the delight of seeing burning magnesium burning brightly when water was added. But in this instance, this is classroom teaching; it is supervised and limited and if you missed it – well there is YouTube!

From my perspective, the visual appeal of seeing those reactions is more memorable to me than anything else. And this is how AR comes into its own. It can provide that instance response across a wide variety of subjects. It is safe and can be a great educational tool if the assets are designed well and the whole AR experience ties in with an educational curriculum.

The experience could also be connected to a students’ learning plan, linking their personal scientific discoveries to their homework, credits and study environments. It would provide a useful revision aid and given the right framework, could allow the sharing of their findings with their peers and teachers.

I would love to develop this idea further and take it to the classroom. From there, we would then be able to understand how well AR works as a teaching aid, and how we could then tailor it to work across other subjects.