Augmented Reality. It’s a cool trick. What it often boils down to in kids’ media is pointing a device at a book to see the subject jump to life in a 3-D environment. What I’ve found so far, though, is that once you get over the trickery of the AR, it doesn’t stay interesting for long, or it doesn’t really work with kids’ natural play patterns.
This week I’m at the Interaction Design and Children conference where I discovered LightUp, a project in the works that uses augmented reality in the best way I’ve seen so far from the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. It’s a manipulative kit like Snap Circuits and LittleBits, where you combine batteries, lights, switches, and more to learn about and make circuits. What sets LightUp apart, though, is the app. Now you can use your phone to learn more about the circuit that you’ve made (or haven’t). If you’ve created a working circuit, you see the animated flow of electricity through your circuit. If you haven’t, the app points out your trouble spots. This is ingenius for kids to work independently, and a great aid for any parent that could use a refresher.
LightUp has 3 more days left on their Kickstarter campaign. Fund it to get your hands on one of the first kits.