When I first started this blog a month ago, I was apprehensive if there would be enough material to write about in regards to augmented reality.  I thought I might be able to squeeze out a post twice a week, if I worked at it.  Lately, its all I can do to not post everyday, mostly so the family doesn’t kill me.  Ori Inbar’s Games Alfresco site is a reason why I get so excited about AR and the possibilities it brings.  The information contained unleashed a thousand ideas.  98% of them have probably been considered, but I’m hoping to add my 2% to the general thoughts of AR study. 

My thoughts today revolve around the video Ori posted a few weeks ago:

Augmented Reality Today: WARM ’09 from Ori Inbar on Vimeo.

So the voice-over is a bit strange, but once I got used to it, I enjoyed the message.  I’ll sum it up in one sentence — “We need to focus on learning applications for AR to move kids away from screens and desks to interactive experiences in the real world, augmented by technology.”

I’ll have to admit my orginal interest in AR was a bit more gaudy.  I’m an avid gamer, and science fiction fan, so the promise of AR was more about the shiny things one could do with it.  Ori brings me back to the value AR can add to society by increasing the learning rate of our children.  I’m all for it. 

Ori correctly points out that play is natural for learning.  My children will sit for long periods of time playing a “math game” that involves doing math problems to advance the game, but sit them down in front of a desk to fill out math sheets and they grow bored quickly.  Why is this?  I’m going to apply a bit of my Toyota Production Systems knowledge to the reasoning.

People do a good job with their work when they know how to perform well, they can see the results of their efforts, and they get immediate feedback on how they are doing.  This is part of a term called Jikotei Kanketsu.  The idea is we should set up jobs in a way that gives the employee immediate satisfaction in performing well.  This is basic behavior science as well.  So what does this have to do with the learning games?

Well, the games have rules, the players can find out if they are doing well immediately, and a score is kept.  Too often we wait long periods of time before giving students feedback (graded tests weeks later), so the student can’t correlate his hard work with the results.  Games do this well.  But the value AR adds that a “screen” cannot, as Ori puts it, is the AR gets the student off their butts and into the real world. 

So we need to come up with useful games that will sell a lot of apps on the iPhone, or other future handheld devices, that incorporate fun and learning to help grow the AR movement.  Off the top of my head, here are a few:

1) Math Monsters – kids walk around their house, and when they come to a door (should be identifiable without a marker), a math problem on a monster appears.  They have to get the answer right to kill the monster. 

2) The Number Collector – kids can collect numbers from any object using the iPhone camera (numbers are easy to identify).  The numbers are randomly mixed up to create a level appropriate math problem and when answered, they collect the location and object they scanned.  A Pokemon for math problems, and the locations people answer their questions can be tracked on a global scale. 

3) Tunester – Any snipit of music can be converted into a few notes.  The player would have to figure out the note and also the spacing between them using a sectioned bar.  This would help with music learning and also spatial analysis. 

4) Ratio game – Any object can be broken down digitally and the player must guess the various ratios associated (length versus heights).  Good for spatial analysis.

Here are just a few.  If you like them, feel free to use them, but just give me credit, and a free app.


Thomas K. Carpenter

Thomas K. Carpenter is a full time contemporary fantasy author with over 50 independently published titles. His bestselling, multi-series universe, The Hundred Halls, has over 25 books and counting. His stories focus on fantastic families, magical academies, and epic adventures.

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