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Augmented realities in learning

By John Published: February 19, 2011

Saw this story in ScienceDaily about a new way to learn chess:

The system combines augmented reality, computer vision and artificial intelligence, and the only equipment required is a high-definition home webcam, the Augmented Reality Chess software, a standard board and pieces, and a set of cardboard markers the same size as the squares on the board, each marked with the first letter of the corresponding piece: R for the king ( rei in Catalan), D for the queen ( dama), T for the rooks ( torres), A for the bishops ( alfils), C for the knights ( cavalls) and P for the pawns ( peons).

It also has technology to make it accessible for people with visual impairments:
The learning tool also incorporates a move-tracking program called Chess Recognition: from the images captured by the webcam, the system instantly recognises and analyses every movement of every piece and can act as a referee, identify illegal moves and provide the players with an audible description of the game status. According to Ivan Paquico and Cristina Palmero, this feature could be very useful for players with visual impairment -- who have their own federation and, until now, have had to play with specially adapted boards and pieces -- and for clubs and federations, tournament organisers and enthusiasts of all levels.

I've never heard of the term "augmented reality" but ScienceDaily also has these stories:

"Visual Walkman" offers Augmented reality

and

Augmented reality underwater

One possible educational application might be virtual field trips:

Psychologists Janis Cannon-Bowers and Alicia Sanchez are part of the team that created virtual reality field trips. Alicia Sanchez, a research scientist at the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, Fla., says, "We did this because we knew that there was a problem locally and nationally with reading and education, and we thought that we could find a very cool, high-tech way to solve that problem."

The virtual technology combines real actors, real places, with animations, movies and games. Students learn new words and are introduced to new environments. They get a 360-degree view of the scene and can look right, left, up, down, forward, and behind them. That's because when each trip is developed, 72 images are taken of each scene. Computer software stitches the images together. The result is a scene that surrounds them.

Sanchez says, "We thought that that was important because we know that a lot of the children who have problems reading are usually of a lower socio-economic status, and they probably don't go camping." The technology is based on books the children are already studying, hopefully giving the kids extra incentive to read. Cannon-Bowers says, "We want to show that this kind of approach actually improves reading."

The virtual reality field trip combines education specialists with psychologists and media specialists. They hope to make it Web-based so it's easily accessible to all schools.

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