Augmented reality is here. Finally! When Google Docs came out, I stopped everything and let all of my classes experience it. Also, I learned about Twitter, I did the same thing. Well, several weeks ago, I stopped everything and took all of my students into Metaverse. Augmented reality is going to be huge — I think it will be even bigger than virtual reality. Until now, however, we haven’t really had apps to help us see the possibilities of this technology. I think Metaverse will be an app to watch in this space. Today I’d like to explain augmented reality and how Metaverse works. I’ll also share how my students are using it to program.
In previous blog posts and shows, I’ve talked about augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). It’s important that we understand the difference.
Virtual reality is where you put on some goggles and visually immerse yourself in an activity. You feel like you’re there. There are many exciting things about VR, but one of the drawbacks is that it’s really easy to forget where you are. There can be some inherent dangers in not knowing your actual location in the physical world.
How does Augmented Reality compare to Virtual Reality?
However, in some ways, augmented reality has far more potential than VR ever could. While we’ve all heard about (and maybe played) Pokemon Go, most of us don’t really understand what AR can do for us. So imagine this: Now you have the ability to overlay digital objects throughout the physical world, and your phone or tablet lets you peek into that “augmented world” and interact with these objects. Suddenly, there are an infinite number of ideas about the things you could interact with.
So, for example, on a computer screen you can put objects in different places. But it’s a 2D experience, so it’s flat. All you have is the screen.
But AR lets your physical world becomes the screen. Right now, we can look at and interact with these digital items through our cell phones. Eventually, our glasses or contact lenses will be AR-enabled, and we’ll be able to see these types of things without a handheld device, and they'll just appear in front of us as if we were looking at a hologram.
What is augmented reality?
But the reality is that places will be augmented. The word “augmented” means “to add to something,” so we are adding another layer to reality. We are adding the digital world to our real, physical world.
To me, this technology leap is similar to when Marc Andreessen programmed Mosaic, the very first web browser, and showed us how we could “browse the web.” All at once, we understood that we could see all of these things on the Internet — and we had graphical objects at our fingertips.
The same thing has happened with augmented reality.
Metaverse: The Augmented Reality Browser
Now there’s a battle to see which augmented reality browser our world will use. Metaverse might just be that AR browser.
I’ve been looking for others, but haven’t really found anything else that can do what Metaverse can do right now, although this is sure to be a hotly contested space.
Digital breakout boxes have a new form
You’ve heard of breakout rooms where people had to solve puzzles to get out of a locked room.
But in schools, you can’t lock students in a room, so people invented breakout boxes. Using their knowledge of history, science, or other subjects, students had to solve the combinations for the boxes to open them and receive the prize inside.
Well, now you can breakout in augmented reality. Here are five examples of simple breakouts, but you can find many more by downloading the Metaverse app and browsing them.
But even better, students can create their own breakout experiences.
Programming in augmented reality
Recently, while I was in Dubai, I had my students program in Metaverse. One group made an augmented reality tour of the school. Others made fun games and activities to teach about topics from pet care to comedy.
Metaverse has many different “triggers.” Like a regular video game or program, it can ask you to input a name that it will call you throughout the experience. Students can follow different paths through the experience based on your responses. They can take quizzes, answer questions, and earn points. Students can even “receive” virtual inventory items and “give” them to characters that you interact with on screen.
Just look at the screen of your phone
All of this is done while you’re looking through the camera on your phone. The virtual objects display over your real world so that you can interact with them without losing track of where you are.
Think about it this way. Every single area of space around you could hold a virtual object. You could browse different objects based on the “experience” that you launched. So at one moment, you could be going inside the cells of a plant or animal. In the next experience, you might be walking through the planets.
One note: The location boxing feature is currently in development. This means that when you launch an item, it will appear right where you are. For example, if you wanted someone to open an experience and see a tour guide by the front office and another one standing by the computer lab, that capability isn’t quite there yet — but it’s coming. Instead, use the scavenger hunt feature and put QR codes in the locations where you want to launch the intelligent “tour guide” or character.
Metaverse is a fantastic way to teach programming and augmented reality. Launch it today and take a look.
Try Augmented Reality Scavenger Hunts
You can also make scavenger hunts with Metaverse. So, for example, you could take the QR code from different experiences and put them around your school or location. People launch them to get the clue or information. You can also add some programming to have them enter a code or number or solved puzzle in order to get the clue. So, these aren’t just augmented objects but they have intelligence.
You can also bundle experiences into groups to use in scavenger hunts as well.
How are teachers using Metaverse?
There’s a curated list of tutorial videos from teachers about how they are using this tool, but here are some of my favorite highlights.
- Tutorial Video about Programming in Metaverse – Richard Byrne (5:07)
- Teaching English with Metaverse – Caleb Bailey (9:41)
- Using Metaverse for Pop Quizzes in the Classroom – Gamer’s Retreat (11:55)
- Metaverse Mathematics Video Tutorial – Jonathan Bigsby (9:31)
- Making Quick and Easy Games with Metaverse – Beatnik Gunso (12:39)
Imagining an Augmented Future
This is much bigger than Pokemon Go. For example, imagine that you’re in a big city looking at ten restaurants across the street. You could look them up on Yelp to see what people say about them, or you could check current availability on OpenTable. However, that takes a lot of browsing time.
What if you could look through your glasses and immediately see the rating of each restaurant floating over the door? Or think about asking your glasses to tell you what kind of food each restaurant serves, and the answers would appear? Then you’d narrow your options and ask your device for the wait time. You could say, “I want a table for 8:00 at John’s Restaurant.” As you walk, everything is reserved.
The experience doesn’t have to end there. When you walk in, a digital representation of John appears and takes you to your table. He’s either a hologram, an overlay appearing on your glasses or contacts, or — at least with current technology — on your cell phone. When you get to your table, an AR waiter appears to take your order.
Eventually, of course, you’ll need a physical person to bring your iced tea or dessert. However, many of the initial interactions in a restaurant could easily take place with an AR object — one with a little bit of artificial intelligence, but it wouldn’t be that difficult to do.
Let your students imagine and augmented future
As we programmed in augmented reality, we also had possible discussions of our augmented future. You can have some amazing invention assignments as students envision and dream of a future with intelligent digital objects overlaying our physical world. Let's augment our reality and learn!
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