Draw & Code were approached by the team at Squixy to create an augmented reality app game to teach children mathematics and STEAM subjects. AR tech expands the boundaries of reality, creating previously unfeasible digital realities that can engage, interconnect, respond and change with their environment. This digital enhancement is making its mark into the education sector – using the creation of multi-dimensional worlds to push forward a refreshing approach of learning to engage users.
By 2023, it is projected that there will be 2.4 billion mobile augmented reality users worldwide, and with that, a reform of education which is becoming more digitalised and offering new solutions to learning and keeping the users attention engaged. We spoke to one of our project producers Sam about the process and challenges of creating an engaging AR app that works seamlessly with its textbook counterpart.
One of the biggest challenges for creating any AR content is the device limitations. With AR being cutting edge, we see newer devices often required to push the features. When it comes to educational content, a lot of children don’t have access to the latest devices and are either using a parents current phone or an older device that has been passed down.
Squixys overall goal was to ensure that no matter what, as many kids could have access to Squixy. We did a lot of R&D at the start of the project to test different SDKs on devices to see what AR methods we could utilise to ensure this goal was achieved.
Everyone learns in their own way, by presenting part of the education through gamification allows us to teach kids basic Mathematics without them realising. Some kids who might find it difficult to absorb the information through text might find it easier to absorb the information passively while playing a game. Other kids might just find it’s an extra method of learning that helps improve their mathematics.
The game acts as a reward, it’s featured at the back of the workbook that gives a kind of linear progression. Once the kid has worked their way through the book, they then have to battle Trixy to save the world. They can either treat it as the final reward or use it as a reward for completing one of the activities as they work through the workbook.
It’s always been hard to focus on learning and not get distracted as a kid. By combining education with fun and engaging activities this allows kids to see the workbook as something enjoyable and not another boring textbook. A child choosing to revisit and explore the Squixy workbook, is the confirmation that we achieved a fun learning experience.
Ensuring that any AR marker we created could be tracked by a variety of devices, from lower end devices to higher end new end ones. We needed to ensure that we could deliver a solid marker that wouldn’t detract from the overall workbook. Nobody wants to buy a booklet to find that a bunch of pages are solely used for markers and physical content.
We designed the majority of the pages within the book to act as markers but also to contain all the content that was appropriate to that section of the workbook.
In previous experiences, it had been challenging to work with large time differences. Receiving feedback and important conversations would fall at the end of the working day. However I think with the adaptation of working from home over the course of 2020 and 2021, the team was already fully operational remotely. This has improved communication even with international clients.
Regular meetings and milestones were set. The American Squixy team was happy to adopt our working communication pipeline and it really helped the overall project.
The technologies around AR are always advancing and pushing the previous limitations. Draw & Code is always keen to push these where we can. The challenge we had with Squixy was to push the boundaries for Squixy but within a more controlled method to ensure it could be used on a wide variety of devices. It’s very easy with new AR technologies to rely on only the latest hardware.
With the app and book being a combination, we had to ensure that we could deliver a solid AR experience for Kids that was fun and educational. The workbook alone can provide a child with plenty of fun and educational activities but with the addition of the App, it brings it all into a new level of fun.
I think they’re definitely a step in the right direction, with technology getting better and better with each passing year. Education is trying it’s hardest to keep up. Each generation of kids is more and more raised along with technology. By presenting education through these methods, you can provide new platforms for children to learn.
With Squixy the goal was always to keep the overall cost of the workbook cheap and the device requirement lower than a lot of the similar products to ensure as many children had access.