Augmented reality, among new age technologies, has a special ability to catch the imagination of children and adult alike, and promote attention within safe and fascinating environments. With its launch in July 2016, the Pokémon Go has broken several records in terms of popularity in the United States and world over. The location-based augmented reality game has been developed for mobile devices. Players use the GPS on their mobile device to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures,thePokémons. These creatures appear on screen making it seem as if they are in the same real-world location as the player. There are various reasons that have contributed to thisphenomenal success. It is an action based game, which engages the player in an immersive environment where they are physically active and not a couch-potato!It is easy to understand and follow —the complexities grow as the learners pass certain milestones within the game. The most important aspect being, it is a collaborative game where more than one player can get involved.
While Pokémon Go has been designed essentially as an entertainment game, but there are numerous practical advantages of using augmented reality for learning. The technology has the potential to provide individually tailored interventions that cater to a wide variety of capabilities. Technology-aided learning can be utilized at different speeds and locations, and never lose patience with the frequent repetition that many of these learners desire.
Augmented reality is a variation of Virtual Environments, but has a few added advantages for learning— especially for those learners with special needs. With Virtual Environments the user is completely immersed in the virtual world, and gets disconnected from the real environment around him or her. This may cause some confusion for learners with special needs and can hinder their learning. In contrast, it allows the user to see the real world with virtual objects superimposed upon or, composited with the real world. This provides the greatest benefit as the learners remain part of the world around them and learn with ease.
With the aim to create an innovative book-based learning game, which would include interaction inputs to help children with special needs develop social interaction and communication skills, an augmented reality based game 'Tobias' adventure during a visit to a zoo park' was created. The player can read the story through on screen text, or listen to the audio. The story will describe five scenarios and interactions with animals and real world situations. This would involve the children with fictional contents related to emotions. The game can be played on any mobile technology such as a tablet, smartphone, or laptop, with an external or inbuilt web camera, and is also available on an online server.
The innovative game, with its graphical interface, character interactions, audio and text narrations mingled with augmented technology, is functional and exciting. It is designed to captivate the attention of the young learners and increase their motivation with success, while developing necessary social skills.
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