Category Archives: Science

Pokemon Go and Education

“Gee offered the observation that, though the USA had long suffered from a stubborn academic achievement gap between poor minority children and white middle-class kids, he knew of no “Pokémon gap.” – USAToday

Update! With new ‘native’ AR APIs for Android and iOS for single camera devices, we’ll be seeing these tools get better and better, and with more battery life. BTW, Unity3D has a plugin for the iOS ARKit and will surely have an Android version soon.

The devices are ubiquitous. And behind closed doors and walled off areas, educational opportunities abound. For developers such as myself who want to help educate and perhaps make the world a better place outside of the trouble riddled world of public education, producing an augmented reality approach to education seems to be an obvious route.

Pokemon Go smartly generates content around the globe algorithmically. I need to think about how such a thing could be done for content that is very particular to the location. Wouldn’t it be great if user generated content could come into play here?

Some ideas :

  • Historical markers and other points of interest could be augmented to show speeches and moments along the timeline where important things occurred. How could that be user generated?
  • Layers of rock in a cliffside could be augmented to show the layer where the KT event occurred and show the abundance of life before and the relatively quiet period after.
  • Outside of an electronics station or power plant, students can learn about the insides of the plant and satisfy their interests about how power is produced there.
  • Hooking up with a site like Coursera would allow course content to be developed around a single topic which would be augmented to show meaningful real-world things and how they work.

Problem points

  1. The devices which are ubiquitous have capability for image tracking, imprecise gps, and an IMU. Pokemon GO likely has an accuracy of around 9 meters. This isn’t good enough for pinpointing interesting things. Notice – in GO, you can’t walk around a Pokemon. This is because the tracking is poor – likely something like a Vuforia user generated image target, which gives loose tracking to whatever is in front of the camera. These image targets are shareable but are likely very hard to reproduce. Lets say a person takes a snapshot of a rock formation. That image target uses points of contrast (or perhaps a SLAM approach, which is a combo of GPS + CV https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simultaneous_localization_and_mapping). Changes to the environment such as lighting or plant growth would dramatically make such a thing hard to place. Pokemon did it right though.. a gps coord + a loose tracking may just work.  (edit – this is no longer the case, as SLAM tracking has gotten really good!)
  2. Too much content. We are talking about a world worth of content. Server infrastructure alone could break this (this is likely workable..). However, developing content for this as a studio would be impossible.  So user generated content is likely the only way to go!

I want to think more on this. Please stay tuned.

 

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Denver Mini Maker Faire

20160611_144737At Streamfall Interactive, we definitely consider ourselves “makers”. We have a passion for building cool things – software, 3D printing, projectors and installations, etc. When we heard about the Denver Maker Fair in town, of course we had to be there, surrounding ourselves by other makers and their cool collection of tech, tinkering, and teaching.20160611_135657_HDR

Having just moved to Denver from Kentucky, where we had our offices in a maker-space, we were both excited to be seeing the new local community. We made some great connections, and even reunited with people previously met at other meetups and networking events!

Michelle volunteered two of the days, helping and networking with local makers. Afterwards, we both attended and geeked out over the things we were seeing. Our friends at Serenity Forge were there as well, showing off their interactive musical game, made specifically for children’s hospitals.

The thing we were most impressed by was the amount of activities for kids, especially in getting them interested in programming and STEM subjects. With so many people offering classes on Arudino, basic circuitry, front end development, robotics, and the like, we were a bit jealous in some ways that we were not young enough to take advantage of all the opportunities presented!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Universal Gravitation for Science Education

This is the first iteration of what could be an interactive and fun piece demonstrating one of the most important concepts in Physics.

The force of gravity exists everywhere in the universe. This simulation shows what a bunch of particles might look like if there were nothing more massive nearby.

This was an interesting technological challenge for me because these particles are not Unity3d GameObjects. They are actually Particle Renderer particles, being cached every Update(), are then calculated (hundreds of calculations per frame), then at the end of the frame – offset based off of the calculation, then pushed back into the ParticleRenderer’s array of particles. The amount would not be possible otherwise.

I’d like to do this on either a massive scale, with the viewer watching it as they please from different scales. Or, using an astronomy database (with a limited sample), then sped up to watch the universe do its thing. I think this would a really great thing to see in a classroom or a museum.

Looking forward to working on this more.

*To view demo below, please use a browser other than Chrome.

New WebGL Version can be found here!

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