Director of Instructional Technology
With specially designed Android phones securely attached to extending selfie sticks, some teachers at Divine Savior Academy recently started off their morning experiencing Google’s new augmented reality features. Augmented and virtual reality are two of the newest immersive features to come to mobile devices. While virtual reality aims to bring a user into another three-dimensional world through the use of goggles connected to mobile phones, augmented reality keeps things a little simpler by only enhancing one’s current view.
Many companies are realizing the benefits of incorporating augmented reality into their mobile apps. For instance, IKEA’s newest mobile app allows customers to see what a piece of furniture looks like in their own living room by augmenting the view through their phone’s camera. While Google’s program is built on the same foundation, they are less concerned about furniture and more concerned with bringing quality resources into the educational setting.
Throughout the day on Monday, January 29, students spanning from grades two through nine filed into one of two classrooms set up with equipment brought in by a Google representative. Their teachers led them in experiences across content areas, such as exploring technology used in World War I, experiencing the forces of nature, and traveling from the far reaches of space to the depths of the ocean. Students were mesmerized as they walked around these digital models, perched on classroom desks. As the 3-D models appeared on the phone screens, students were able to inspect any side of the object, and, in some instances, even go inside the object.
Google’s augmented reality portion of their Expeditions app is currently in beta mode, meaning they are testing it out and continually looking for ways to improve the experience. They are currently touring around the country, bringing this experience into schools and classrooms to gain important feedback from the teachers and students who test the app. Even though this technology isn’t fully available for the educational setting now, there is great promise in what it can add to many lessons in the near future.