I grew up in a rural farming town in the Northwest.
In most ways my childhood was idyllic despite a much simpler technological era. We didn’t have the Internet in our home until I was in my teenage years. The family would occasionally gather around a 19” TV in the evenings but living in a small town meant that we would only get 3 channels with any reliable reception. I’m sure that young adults even ten years my junior are now asking the question, “what did you do with all your time?”
One of the perks of living on the outskirts was that, upon moving to the area, my parents had purchased 2 acres of property. A small cherry orchard out back of the house was my source of entertainment for many of my childhood years. Digging shallow ditches in the ground and using a hose as our water source, my older brother and I could easily spend several hours a day playing in the mud.
What does any of this have to do with Augmented Reality? I feel pretty strongly that augmented and virtual realities have the potential to come full circle in pairing technology with real life experiences. There are at least a dozen logistical reasons that my children can’t have the same experience of playing unattended in the mud that I once enjoyed. I realize that at this point I start to date myself as I talk about the good ole’ days but bear with me. I am not proposing that we move away from technology as a society but rather we embrace the aspects of technology that allow all of us to get back to a place of creativity, learning, playing, and inventing.
So, do you want to play in the mud again? Build yourself an augmented reality sandbox based on the work done by Oliver Kreylos. To prove my point, you can watch this video of me playing in an AR sandbox. Or better yet, don’t watch it and go create your own to play in. After having this installation in my middle school library, I can attest to the fact that kids are still kids and they still enjoy the benefits of simply playing around. Oh yeah, if you’re not following the playing in the mud and sand analogy, insert any other thing you’ve ever experienced or can imagine, that is the power behind AR / VR.