18/02/2015  Update: ‘Touchable Universe’ project.

Touchable Universe Project

Although we initially had a hard time finding people who were able to commit time to attend workshops this was not unexpected as the timing was difficult – just before Christmas and just after the New Year!  The attendees we had were brilliant. More information came from one to one demo meetings we had with educators and developers, and ad hoc meetings at BETT with teachers, developers, distributors and education influencers. This gave us with sufficient high calibre information and contributed to the scenarios and ideas we needed for designing a viable wireframe haptic demonstrator that could be built. We built one in 6-7 days!

This wireframe demonstrator is a virtual ‘Glockenspiele’ which you can physically strike and feel the impact, hear the different notes from the different bars and see the wavelengths of each notes. The Glockenspiele can be played in a ‘natural’ environment, under the ocean and up in Space with these different places affecting the properties of sound. The bars can also be lengthened and shortened to hear how this affects the notes.

Glockenspiele in Space
Glockenspiele in Space

The ‘Glockenspielle’ was built by the developer we contracted in for this task and was created using the prototype A-Frame Platform we are appraising in this feasibility project. Its first purpose is to start testing the prototype platform we have and are developing further as a tool for developers to bring haptics into their apps Secondly the ‘glockenspiele’ is to show developers how it was build in barely 7 days from scratch. Thirdly, we need feedback from learners and educators about its potential for ‘learning about sound’, feedback that will persuade developers to invest in haptics as a way of enhancing learning experiences and to use our A-Frame platform to do this.

Phase two engagement sessions: The wireframe haptic Glockenspiele shows “what we have today” and by demonstrating it at meetings/workshops we use it to spark imaginations: “this is how it could be”. Our next workshops will be in schools in Stafford. We are also organising workshops in Scotland for learners and teachers to participate so please email us (info at anarkik3d .co. uk) if you are interested and possibly available to participate. You will get an invitation to a Doodle poll of dates and times, and the venue if this has been decided. A workshop session is just a couple of hours, with tea and nibbles to keep you going. More information here: http://bit.ly/1tUIrA0 & below.

Our Company in Edinburgh, Anarkik3D, has been awarded funding from Innovate UK via their Learning Technologies competition. Our one page summary for our ‘Touchable Universe’ project describes our objectives to investigate how best to apply/combine/embed haptics with and into other learning technologies, tools and software to create more effective learning apps, particularly for ‘hard to teach’ subjects and groups, apps which are fun to learn and use, are ‘plug and play’, reliable and with built in support and methods to encourage self motivated learning and progression.

Haptics offers enormous potential for learning. We are particularly pleased to have won grant funding as this collaborative feasibility project builds on the thoroughly tested prototype platform that we developed with a Scottish Executive SMART Award to combine haptics and graphics. An extended platform will enable application developers to combine haptics with other engines (physics, audio, stereo vision, animation,open sim, etc.) to integrate the sensation of touch into their products. With the Glockenspiele in mind now imagine combining touch with 3D audio-visual interfaces, 3D modelling to create a music app in which learners can allocate different sounds to different 3D forms and colours, shapes which can be touched and ‘physically’ manipulated and changed to experiment with and explore the properties of sound and to compose music!

The examples we put forward in our application were 1) imagine being a dental student and by using a well-designed system you are able to feel both the hard tooth – and the soft gum tissue – as you practice drilling in your virtual patient’s mouth,  2) imagine being a physics students, you compare pushing snowballs uphill on Earth and Europa, 3) imagine being a designer maker starting to learn how to shape malleable hotglass against gravity and without the need for a furnace.

Anarkik3D is collaborating with Glastonbridge Software Ltd and Stakeholder Design in this project. The developmental process is iterative, based on responses and feedback from the different groups in the education sector with whom we are consulting and cooperating with. We are particularly pleased to have an excellent group of enthusiastic participants with wide and varied experiences, generating forward thinking ideas for haptic enabled (virtual touch) applications and hearing about the possible applications that teachers and learners really want and will use if configured for their learning needs. .


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