Eight years ago I participated in an Alternate Reality Game. This experience led me down a trail of researching how to use games as education. That led me to a then very cutting edge technology known as Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality takes a device with a screen (then PDAs now phones and tablets) and uses it to add information to the real world. Imagine pointing your phone at a painting and having the Wikipedia page pop up right alongside it. The problem was that my school did not have the technology at the time to make this a possibility. Now with every kid having a phone in their pocket I just needed some software to create the "reality" images.
Fast forward to last week when I found Aurasma through a post on one of my favorite sites, classroom20.com. Aurasma is a free app on both iOS and Android operating systems. Once it is installed you point your device at a real-world object and it magically comes to life (ok, it plays a video overlay but seriously, it is as close to magic as I've ever seen.) There are pre-made public Aurasmas for well-known objects like the twenty dollar bill as well as many made for marketing purposes (like pointing it at a KFC logo.) The first time you see it will blow your mind.
So, that's great, but how can I use it? That's what sets Aurasma apart from other Augmented Reality apps - it lets you make your own. You simply select the media off your phone (photo or video) and then point your camera at the real world object you want to act as the trigger and boom, you've got AR of your very own.
Well, theoretically. I'm not going to lie, my phone didn't seem to want to actually ever load the new creations. From what I've read it works much more smoothly on iOS than on Android so I'm hopeful that later updates will improve the consistency. I'm also hopeful more of you will try it out and share your experiences with it as I simply love the idea.
Imagine having a word wall in your classroom that exploded with virtual images, animations and sounds. Imagine having a picture of Leonardo da Vinci come to life and start talking to you. Imagine your lifeless history textbook now serving as a gateway to multimedia content. The potential is amazing and this app comes the closest to making it a reality.
Aurasma is free and is absolutely worth checking out.
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