Education

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HITLabNZ Spiders

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arachnophobia-hitlab-nzbuildar-only-augmented-realityAugmented Reality Spiders to help arachnophobia

Researchers have created an augmented reality application that fills your desk with virtual hairy, red-and-black patterned spiders. The spiders even interact with real things on the desk, crawling over books and disappearing under pieces of paper. That’s probably not appealing to most people, but the research team, which includes a psychologist, hopes it will become a next-generation treatment for people with arachnophobia, which is a fear of spiders.

  • Location: New Zealand
  • Date: April 2012
  • Tools: BuildAR, Kinect
  • Time: Ongoing

Virtual reality spider phobia treatments already exist, but this application is particularly realistic, allowing people to poke the virtual spiders, pick them up and let them crawl up their arms. “People can have this next level,” said Adrian Clark, a computer scientist who worked on the application. He and his colleagues are part of the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

KINECT TO MAP

To map the 3D environment of a desk or any tabletop, Clark and his colleagues used a Microsoft Kinect that looks down at the desk from above. The Kinect sends the information it sees to a computer. Inside the computer, software that lab members developed visualizes the spiders and determines the physics of spider interactions, creating a simulation of how virtual spiders should behave in the real world, Clark explained. The computer sends its simulation to a pair of augmented reality viewing glasses users wear.

FROM CARS TO SPIDERS

Lab members originally wrote the software in 2011 for a toy car racing game, in which small virtual cars zoom around a tabletop, realistically rounding behind books and flying off paper ramps. To adapt the software for phobia treatment, researcher just had to change the graphics from cars to spiders and alter the program’s behaviors from driving to crawling, Clark said.

One benefit of the virtual spiders is that their personalities are programmable. They can be intimidated by the user or aggressive, depending on where patients are in their treatment regimen, Clark told Innovation News Daily. Treating psychologists can add more spiders to the scene as their patient’s treatment progresses.

The lab has shown the arachnid application informally at conferences, but hasn’t yet published any papers on the program for peer review. Non-spider-phobic people who have tried the program have an “overwhelmingly positive reaction,” said Clark, who added that he’s pleased with his work’s realism. People who interact with the virtual spiders say they feel fear and revulsion, even though they know the leggy crawlers aren’t real.

Before the lab submits a paper, they want to show the program to some volunteer patients and record their reactions. They’re also working on some improvements to the software, Clark said, including the ability to squish the spiders, which would help patients feel they’re in control.

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Anatomy 4D

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anatomy-4D-daqri-vuforia-only-augmented-realityA 4D augmented reality experience

What does the future of 21st century education look like? daqri’s artists, scientists, and engineers see it in 4D. They saw human anatomy, one of the most complex systems to access and visualize, as a perfect subject for showcasing Augmented Reality’s potential.

  • Location: Global
  • Date: September 2012
  • Tools: Daqri, Vuforia
  • Time: Not specified

The vision for daqri’s anatomy app was to enable students around the world to learn anatomy quickly and accurately, anywhere, anytime. daqri also wanted its app to be useful in any classroom environment from day one and accessible to the widest range of people, from students to medical professionals to the casually curious.

EXPLORE BODILY SYSTEMS

daqri’s Anatomy 4D puts informative details of the most complex human bodily systems into a free app that is easy to use, accessible, and truly engaging. Users of the app explore bodily systems through daqri’s 4D experience, which empowers them with an interactive view that feels like real space. That makes it easier to understand how systems relate to each other—a learning experience previously only accessible in a traditional anatomy lab.

WORK COLLABORATIVELY

daqri product marketing manager Gaia Dempsey commented, “AR can help us learn so much more quickly. It can help us spread and share information. It can help us be more productive together and work collaboratively. As storytellers it enables us to tell new kinds of stories in new ways.” To make such a complex experience seem simple, this revolutionary app required a standalone AR solution with best-in-class tracking and cross-platform capability, the Vuforia™ platform was an ideal fit.

Vuforia also satisfied daqri developers’ desire to work in Unity. Vuforia’s platform compatibility with Unity’s 3D graphics development engine enabled all the pieces to come together with ease. The extension even took care of some tasks developers assumed they’d be handling themselves. daqri also leveraged Vuforia’s capability to make the target intuitively printable from inside the app, a key to sharability and the app’s viral success.

According to daqri the Anatomy 4D app, which was released quietly in iTunes for iOS and in Google Play for Android, went viral almost immediately. Results surpassed daqri’s expectations—and continue to astonish:

  • 250,000+ downloads from the App Store and Google Play
  • 3,200+ hours (134 days) spent by users in the app in its first three weeks of release
  • Has garnered the attention of dozens of professors and universities – including Stanford, The University of Illinois, and Trinity College – who plan to adopt its capabilities as part of coursework
  • Enthusiastic and global self-generated user community
  • Anatomy 4D was featured by Business Insider Australia as an “App That Makes You Feel Like You’re Living in The Future”

Gaia continued, “This is an incredibly encouraging market validation of augmented reality that is useful rather than gimmicky, especially in educational settings.” Beyond demonstrating the educational potential of AR, the Anatomy 4D app also validates Vuforia’s power to deliver the experience daqri demands for its users. Anatomy 4D’s success sets a precedent for apps exploring other complex systems, from business to the weather. daqri hopes Anatomy 4D’s innovation will inspire other organizations and brands to explore what’s possible in high-quality AR content.

Beyond demonstrating the educational potential of AR, the Anatomy 4D app also validates Vuforia’s power to deliver the experience daqri demands for its users. Anatomy 4D’s success sets a precedent for apps exploring other complex systems, from business to the weather. daqri hopes Anatomy 4D’s innovation will inspire other organizations and brands to explore what’s possible in high-quality AR content.

Anatomy 4D puts every detail of the most complex human bodily systems into a free app that is easy to use, accessible, and truly engaging. Learners explore bodily systems in depth through daqri’s 4D experience, which provides the opportunity to understand their interrelationships spatially – a learning experience previously only accessible in a gross anatomy lab.

How to use: To test-drive the app, open the target image at left. (This target is also available to print through the app itself.) The app can be downloaded for iOS or Android. Looking at the target image through the app, you will be able to see a detailed 4D model of the human body and view various biological systems, turning them “on” and “off” with the touch of a button.

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