If you want to see a bunch of adults' faces light up like a ten year old's in a candy shop (oohs and awes included), you want to check out (AR) Augmented Reality.
If you're not familiar with Augmented Reality, you should be! If you're like me you might be familiar with virtual reality, that allows you to engage in a 3D world. Augmented reality brings the 3D world into your own! If you are confused by that, take a look at this picture for an example:
Believe it or not, those kids didn't actually bring a hippo or a whale into the classroom. What they did use was the app ZooKazam which you can find all about how to use here. Using this super cool app we got to bring a giraffe and a T-Rex into our class room! Not many can say that one!
Asides being crazy cool, the Augmented Reality apps also have a lot of educational value. They can teach us things up close and personal without actually having to be up close and personal.
I was amazed by the Military.com article that explained the Augmented Reality training they are now using in the marines which allows trainees to be projected into a interactive battlefield through specially designed goggles without actually being there.
Discover Magazine explains how archaeologists are now using this new technology for their studies as well. Archaeologist Stuart Eve has developed an app called 'Dead Man's Eyes' that takes smartphone users on a blast to the past using the AR to see scenes from the past in history. He even takes it a step further than just seeing, he adds sound that you can get closer to and further from, and has even developed a 'Dead Man's Nose' prototype equipment loaded with over 300 scents that allows users to actually SMELL the augmented world they have launched themselves in. You can see a little bit of how it works in the video below.
A huge Augmented Reality tool we got to see for ourselves in our class was Google Cardboard. Using a Google Cardboard viewer, I was very excited to find myself in the middle of a huge science museum, and minutes later next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This is the next best thing to time travel and it's just getting crazier. I found myself walking around with the goggles hoping I didn't bump into anything as you just get SO immersed in what you're seeing. While we don't take this for granted, we also might not realize just how amazing this can be. A woman named Bonnie who has suffered from Stargardt disease that has caused her to lose her vision certainly does. Using the stereostopic viewer that is Google Cardboard Bonnie was able to see her own children for the first time in eight years! You can see the heartwarming video here.