AR -> VR

Aurasma Channel: nvmischenko

Sydney Opera HouseNext fall, I will be teaching Tourism 1 & 2 at the high school level. It hasn’t been taught in a while and the recommended textbook is approximately 13 years old. There is some really excellent information in it, but the media just isn’t up to par if it’s going to catch the eye of my students. I’m sure you’ll agree that these photos are lacking pizazz.

Roman Forum

These pictures are taken from a section of the textbook called “Attractions.” Unfortunately, they are presented without any context beyond their location, so they could be easily skipped over while reading. How could you possibly discuss travel without pictures? And, why would you want to? Especially for semi-rural Alaskan students who rarely leave the state, seeing photos of global tourist destinations and understanding how easy it is to get there is a big moment! It was important to me to tie the photos into better conversation with the text content of the book, because really, why would a student want to learn about how to book a flight if they don’t have anywhere they want to go?

VeniceMy end goal for this project is to have Aurasma overlays that link to 360 degree photos that have stereoscopic capabilities. I recently purchased a class set of Google Cardboard viewers so that students could see 360 degree photos in VR. I’m hoping with these pictures that we can use this shared viewing experience as a jumping off point for class discussions and to wrap up the textbook chapters that precede the photos.Sacré-Cœur Church in Paris France

At the moment, the platform I’m using to view the photos doesn’t have Cardboard mode for mobile browsers (though it should be up in the next 1-2 months). So, if you scan the trigger images right now, it will send you to a 360 degree photo of the location within a mobile browser. From here, you’re able to swipe around on the screen to see the whole photo. The platform is called Round.Me and actually has a really nice mobile app. I considered just having students download the app, but it takes away the direct connection to the textbook. You’re able to use their collections of 360 degree photos or upload your own. I found that you are able to add more features to ones you upload yourself and am in the process of replacing the ones created by other users. There are interesting features such as adding embedded photos (allowing you to “travel” from one place to the next) or informational “hotspots,” both of which I could see myself using in the classroom.Mont Saint-Michel in France

I learned a lot about the lack of cross-platform communication in this project. After a few false starts with Aurasma (webpage overlays are still very much in beta), I found that adding “additional actions” to image overlays was an effective way to link to a webpage. Then the real trouble started. I usually consider myself someone who can handle basic tech issues; sometimes I enjoy all the researching and trial and error. But, I kid you not, it took me an entire day to find confirmation that “photospheres” within Google Street View are not externally linkable. Of course, Google Street View has the broadest collection of 360 degree photos that are Cardboard capable. This was a serious setback and I went through a couple other options (Sphere, Holobuilder, 360vr) before I settled on Round.Me. I was never able to figure out how to link to something in a way that forced that app to open instead of a mobile browser. Once this becomes available, projects like this will be a breeze, instead of relying on the capabilities of mobile browsers.

Chapel Bridge in Lucerne Switzerland

All this being said, it’s clear this project isn’t finished to the point where I would bring it into the classroom. A more final product will be available sometime before next August when I hope to roll this out. There are tech issues still to tackle, and I want to make sure I’ve structured the AR –> VR experience in a way that is strongly tied to the curriculum. On a different note, all this searching through 360 degree photos has inspired me to add a photo assignment to the Tourism syllabus. We’ll be able to take 360 degree pictures in our community and upload them for tourists who want to check out Talkeetna!

Château de Chambord in France

4 thoughts on “AR -> VR

  1. Very nice. I think it is great how you are taking aged photos and adding new, modern, techie life to them. I like your statement about tying the text content of book to the project/photos. These days it is VERY hard to get students to see any value in reading the textbook. They just want to Google everything. I have never heard of Round.Me so I found it interesting. Your idea of taking photos of your area reminds me of a grant I wrote about ten years ago in which I wanted to gps collar urban moose and track their movements with my biology students. Then we could travel to the different locations and take photos to “stitch” together and create a 360º image. We talked about this in the Hangout yesterday. Good job, as usual.

    Only thing that might need fixing: “So, if you scan the trigger images right now it will send you to a 360 degree photo of the location that in which you’re able to swipe around to see the whole photo.”
    Maybe remove the “that”. As is it doesn’t sound quite right.

  2. Excellent idea and accompanying write-up. I look forward to seeing where you take this come fall! The textbook really did manage to include the most vanilla pictures of some wonderful places to visit. I’m certain I’ve never seen the Opera House look so dull. I’m inspired by your ideas for bringing these things to life in this way. When I finally got the 360 experiences to load (literally took over a minute on high-speed wi-fi!), they were fun. I’d actually never seen the area around the Colosseum in Rome. You walk between gated off ruins! It isn’t just the Colosseum by itself int he middle of a modern area. Honestly, it made me want to visit Rome more — and that seems to be your goal.

    No issues that I noticed.

  3. Clarity of message
    I loved the idea of traveling in the classroom! Magic School Bus…

    Depth of message
    You persevered, and you’re willing to wait for the tech to catch up to your ideas!

    Writing Standards
    No problems noted.

    Quality and appropriateness of media
    Great pictures, and I’m excited to see the final result!

  4. I think this is an excellent idea, and has the potential to be really great in the classroom. I particularly liked the possibility of having students craft a tourism tour for your town. It is sad that the tech isn’t keeping up with your ideas. The overlays work well, and I can access the RoundMe 360 photos just fine, but it is a pain to need to load into a browser window. It will be great to see how these turnout once the Cardboard interface works out.

    Like Dave I found the sentence “So, if you scan the trigger images right now it will send you to a 360 degree photo of the location that in which you’re able to swipe around to see the whole photo.” to be awkward–though I recommend taking out the “in” as well.

    Overall the project is well done.

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