Sunday, November 4, 2007

Augmented Reality (AR) Game: Tech Review #4

According to wikipedia, AR is a field of computer research which deals with the combination of real world and computer generated data. At present, most AR research is concerned with the use of live video imagery which is digitally processed and "augmented" by the addition of computer generated graphics. Advanced research includes the use of motion tracking data, fiducial marker recognition using machine vision, and the construction of controlled environments containing any number of sensors and actuators.

Ronald Azuma's definition of AR is one of the more focused descriptions. It covers a subset of AR's original goal, but it has come to be understood as representing the whole domain of AR: Augmented reality is an environment that includes both virtual reality and real-world elements. For instance, an AR user might wear translucent goggles; through these, he could see the real world, as well as computer-generated images projected on top of that world. Azuma defines an augmented reality system as one that

  • combines real and virtual
  • is interactive in real time
  • is registered in 3D
The following site includes eight different types of augmented reality (AR) games. Some of these games were discussed in Chapter 11 in detail, some were just mentioned.

1. AR games provide learners with immersive learning environments as AR technology adds graphics, sounds, haptics, and even smell to the natural world as it exists. My favorite one among the eight games listed on the site above is Hip Hop Tycoon, which involve students in meaningful, problem-solving tasks related to reading and math. I really liked the way it embed effective reading and math strategies in activities aligned to the state standards. The unit plan is very well-organized and the deliverables package is thoughtfully prepared.

2. The AR technology is really changing the way we view the world, using sense enhancements over real-world environment in real-time. Although AR systems employ some of the same hardware technologies used in virtual-reality research, but there's a crucial difference: whereas virtual reality basically aims to replace the real world, AR supplementsit. Therefore, I think AR games would engage student in more immersive learning. However, challenges to integrate those games into curriculum would be the cost, time, and teachers' ability to deploy the technology that support the AR environments and sense enhancements.

3. I like Amy's idea of integrating Hip Hop Tycoon into her entrepreneurship class. It's a very thoughtful plan she presented in terms of how to help students build on their previous experiences and develop more defined roles related to the real world occupations using the problem-based activities in the game. I also agree with her that the availability of the hand-held devices might be the major detriment to the integration of the game.

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