Augmented Reality with a Microsoft Kinect

Hi I know it’s been a while since I have last posted anything on this blog, I have been busy setting up another project (more about that at a later date). Just before the summer I was asked by @chickensaltash (if you aren’t following him on twitter you should) if I would present at the Saltash.net teach meet. I accepted and then realised I didn’t know what I was going to talk about, So I had a look online to see if anything technology related that looked like it could be adapted for educational purposes. I came across the term “Augmented Reality” now if you are like me, some who loves using new technology but sometimes has to look up the meaning of the new fan fangled term I have saved you the trouble.

“Augmented reality (AR) is the integration of digital information with live video or the user’s environment in real time. Basically, AR takes an existing picture and blends new information into it. One of the first commercial applications of AR technology is the yellow first down line in televised football games”

The full article is here http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/augmented-reality.html

I was surprised to read that AR has been around for a long time, this got me thinking why is this not used in education? Or perhaps it is and I am not aware of it being used?

So I started playing around with AR on my phone and thought it was pretty cool. Then I thought this would be amazing if I could get what I am seeing on my phone on to my white board in the classroom. I did some more research and found out that a lot of people had already done this with the Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect. All be it being a bit naughty and hacking into the device via a PC. However now Microsoft have released Kinect SDK which does not require you to hack or do anything other than just plug your Kinect sensor into your PC and start programing.

The link for Kinect for Windows SDK beta can be found here for FREE:

http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/projects/kinectsdk/

I have complied a video from various clips I have found online which shows what AR is all about pay particular attention to the section that starts 54 seconds in as this is where the Microsoft Kinect shows its true potential to be a valuable tool within the classroom for any subject.

I am really looking forward to using this piece of kit and intend on ordering the sensor as soon as I get back into school. I would imagine that I am not the only one who thinks that the possibilities for this are endless in a classroom. Can you imagine taking your students a walk through the trenches of WW1 in your own classroom or letting your students create music just from the movement of their bodies, or even something as simple as writing an email with your finger in mid-air.

I intend to be keeping an update on how I and my students get on with this once I have brought the sensor and started playing with the Kinect of Windows SDK software.

If anyone has already started using this within a classroom environment please get in touch.

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