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Intern Blog: How Augmented Reality can bring Hogwarts to Life

Written by: Navya

The cold yet damp air wrapped around him like a heavy coat of chain mail as he transcended down the ageing hallways. The paintings, lining the walls, alive, uttering unintelligible words. Yet amongst the sea of voices, two words became prominent, echoing throughout the empty castle: “Harry…Harry Potter”. The stone-cold walls – unscathed by the warmth radiating from the flaming torches, created an illusion of twilight despite the heat and brilliance of the Summer time.

Eagerly waiting on your 11th birthday for Hagrid to arrive with your Hogwarts acceptance letter was, I dare say, every child’s dream. At least it was mine for sure. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – from the talking paintings to the Transfiguration classes, life was full of promise. This is an ideal that never failed to amaze us Potterheads. Yet, as we grew older, we accepted the fact that it was impossible.

Hogwarts was merely a phantom of our imaginations that we were forced to leave behind. However now, through the use of Augmented Reality (AR), the magic we believed was lost can be retrieved – and it’s much easier than you think.

How can augmented reality be used in modern schooling?

From multi-touch to gaming technologies which are utilised in modern schooling, we are, undoubtedly harnessing the ‘Classroom of the Future’ for generations to come. An aspect which is vital in social and intellectual ferment within a school environment is the interaction and collaboration between peers and educators alike. Ultimately, collaborative AR allows for teamwork when comprehending the superimposed virtual data. This helps to promote a greater transfer of knowledge amongst students of all ages. For instance, undertaking difficult procedures or to tackle any problems is addressed through AR demonstrations in lecture or seminar halls. Alternatively,  classrooms can establish an effective means of passing of knowledge amongst people.

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Amazing, right?

Better yet, it caters to specific learning types of students. Students can physically see or hear the digital material, formulating a better understanding of the data. Moreover, it affords students the opportunity to instinctively manipulate and alter the ‘virtual information’. This ensures a stronger understanding of their subject content (as augmented technology can be repeated).

The very basis of AR is to integrate the concepts of a physical environment (such as a classroom) with various virtual setups to establish tangible interfaces. A medium to transfer information to students in an interactive manner. Talking paintings no longer seem like a distant cry, do they?


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Okay, okay – so this may not be Hogwarts as we exactly remember it. However we must consider the limitless possibilities AR developed by Appearition has to offer. The world is forever changing, and it is time we stop falling behind the times. Hey, you never know – you just might find a little bit of magic along the way.

 

Image source: (1) (2) (3)

 

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Staff Blog: Mucking about with 360 VideoSphere VR Part 2

All Goes Well, Until It Doesn’t

Interested in 360 VR (VideoSphere)? This series shares what I learnt producing one aboard an old Sailing Ship for the Melbourne Fringe Festival[1].

I was lucky enough to come across the opportunity at a VR (Virtual Reality) meetup to produce a VideoSphere short film, with the camera and expert guidance supplied[2]. I have produced traditional video, and was already intrigued after seeing two staff from ABC TV talk about their experience at an earlier Mixed Reality meetup[3].

When Amy Nelson and Astrid Scott explained how they produced the ABC’s first 360 production, I was struck by how accessible they made it[4]. They faced the challenge of placing their camera on a pole over an angry bull in the middle of a rodeo in outback Queensland. For other shots they had the camera operator hiding behind a barrel. Not because of the bull, but because hiding the crew behind the camera is not an option, when there is no “behind” the camera.

They were candid about accepting mistakes. They knew that many of the rules learned over the last century do not apply to this medium so new practices must be developed through experimentation.

So given this chance, my first thought was ‘brilliant!’ which is my reaction to anything related to Virtual and Augmented Reality. But I had no team, no 360 experience, and no time. So, it had everything going for it but common sense.

1830’s Cultural Heritage Meets 360 Video

The festival required a proposal. Cultural Heritage (i.e. history) kinda rocks and everybody loves old fashioned sailing ships, whatever their opinion of Johnny Depp’s (over)acting in Pirates of the Caribbean. However, not everybody can spend time aboard one, let alone to climb out onto a yard-arm high above the deck. I have been a volunteer aboard the Enterprize, an educational tourism ship, for the last few years, and this was a way to share the experience.

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The first step was to create a storyboard (a sequence of shots, like panels in a comic book) and get the festival and the ship’s management on board.

The next step was to put together a team. For the cinematography I called on Andrew Gotts, an old friend who has worked in video production. He enjoys experimental technology, and has a good head for heights. He suggested an editor, Nadia Nusatea, so that made three. We still required an audio specialist so I approached Darius Kedros who runs a VR Audio special interest group[5].

There were a few short weeks to learn the technology, shoot and edit. But we now had a plan, a team, and something to film.

Cameras and Audio Equal Trouble and Strife

Then, bad news. The practice camera provided was incompatible with Andrew’s hardware, and we could not borrow the production camera until less than a day before the shoot. Our choices were to quit, or go in blind.

Worse news. Darius would be overseas for an extended period. Understandably he did not want to risk his very expensive audio capture equipment with somebody else; particularly when it would be suspended over salt water.

Next week

In next week’s edition: All At Sea But Problem Solving: We improvise to solve our production problems and capture our footage, but even editing 360 creates its own obstacles

Useful Links

Many of these are Melbourne (Australia) based, but you can find similar resources wherever you are.

  1. Part 1 of this Series: https://www.appearition.com/mucking-about-with-360-videosphere-vr/ 
  2. Nathan Beattie’s VR Developers’ Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-VR/
  3. Leah Bunny and Emily Harridge’s Real World VR Meetuphttps://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-VR-Virtual-Reality-Meetup/
  4. ABC TV’s first 360 VideoSphere production: http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-03/vr:-the-life-of-a-bronc-rider/6966832
  5. Darius Kedros and Sally Kellaway’s VR Audio Group: http://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-AR-VR-Audio-Meetup/

 

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Is Augmented Reality the future of education?

Augmented reality is here to stay and there are endless ways of incorporating AR into daily life.
Over 20 years ago we would watch films like Robocop featuring futuristic head mounted display units, projecting superimposed graphics and text and think it was amazing. But interactivity isn’t just for Hollywood now. These days, real-world AR technology has that level of sophistication.

AR apps can mix graphic elements (3D, Video, text, etc.) with live video footage to create a unique user experience. And with the advancement of products like Google Glass, the digital visor is now almost a reality!

So how else can we use Augmented Reality?

Now personal computing has become more efficient and even more accessible with the invention of products like smartphones and tablet computers, the iPad in particular is proving to be useful in many ways. The intuitive interface of the iPad has made them easy for children to use, so it should be no surprise that teachers have now embraced the use of iPads in education.

The iPad in the classroom brings education to life. Children have endless access to valuable information such as the dictionary, thesaurus, and textbooks which previously were only available in print. Not only does the digital format mean that material is now constantly up to date, easily carried around and accessed, but the interactive technology makes learning more engaging and memorable. Great news for teachers everywhere! Tools such as audio and video recorders can change the way that learning takes place and homework is completed.

How can we use AR to help children learn?

There are a few examples of apps which have been developed for educational technology including:

Fetch! Lunch Rush! This app is a great use of augmented reality to make mathematics fun for young students. This free iPhone/iPad app was developed with the purpose of getting kids moving about a room in search of numbers. Students read the arithmetic problem on the app then search out the correct answer. When they think they have found the right number they scan it with their iPhones or iPads to find out if they are correct or not.

Star & Planet Finder The free version of this app enables you to locate the planets and stars in the night sky through your iPhone or iPad. To use the app, choose the planet or constellation you want to find from the list provided. Star & Planet Finder will then give you the directions to move your iPhone or iPad until you can see the planet that you’re looking for through the camera display. With the paid version of the app you can add lists of constellations, lists of satellites, and lists of brightest stars to the app.

Though the digital world might be crucial for future generations as they grow up, they should never forget that the importance of the real world. Maintaining a balance between both would be a wise message to teach for our kids, which luckily is easier than ever with augmented reality.

If you’re looking to develop an educational app contact Appearition to talk about an augmented reality solution.

 

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