Sunday, August 09, 2009

Augmented Reality

"Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from magic."
- Arthur C. Clark

This quote pretty much sums up how most of us feel the first time we see augmented reality in. If you are wondering what it is, ReadWriteWeb has a great post explaining it while keeping it in perspective of it's importance in relationship to other new technologies. There's even a cool graph of tech-hype vs long term usefulness:


I had the chance to show AR in action to a number of new Google Certified Teachers at the latest GTA in Boulder, Colorado. While it is as cool and magical as it seems, (Wes Fryer said it reminded him of being on the Jedi Counsel in Star Wars.)

How to I set it up?
  • Download Google Sketchup, a 3D modeling tool for MAC or PC.
  • Then, create a 3D model or download one from the 3D Model Warehouse. Note: The smoothness is dependant on the speed of your computer, so I'd start with a model without a ton of detail. Like this.
  • Go to the AR-Plugin page and download the 30sec trial.
  • Then download and print the marker needed to display the object.
  • Copy the plugin into the plugin folder in Sketchup. The locations will be dependant on your computer, but here are the MAC and PC user guides.
  • Turn on your webcam, load a model, click on the AR icon, and let the amazement begin.
The second question to be asked after, "How did you do that!" is, "How can I use this in the classroom?" And like most technologies, it depends on your age level and purpose. All levels will react to how cool it is initially, but like more new technologies, by the 3rd time they've seen it the novelity has worn off. This is how we use it my district. All of our 8th graders build projects for their Integrated Technology class and make Sketchup prototypes of their items before construction can start. This is a way for students to 'hold' the item in their hand and turn it around and see if their model reflects what they were trying to create.

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Another very cool application of the technology.