Exploring the Future of Augmented Reality: Chatbots and Avatars Powered by AI

Back in 2013, I was mesmerized by a virtual reality session. But because I had done a lot of 3d programming, it seemed just okay, not earth-shattering.

Once in the booth, I put on the goggles and went for a cruise on a three-dimensional street. There were fabricated buildings and folks moving around. But there was a surprise in store.

The instructor told me to push the joystick a certain way. Up I went. I thought- “Now that’s what I’m talking about.” I’ve had recurring dreams of self-flight since early childhood and now I am experiencing it while awake. Okay, “wow”, good job guys.

My turn was up and I turned the equipment over to the next entrant. After all, this was for work, I’m a team player so there you go. One and done.

The Metaverse – honorable mention

I saw an article the other day that struck my interest in Augmented Reality. It was about training and education using virtual reality.

How does metaverse learning work?

“Metaverse learning works by allowing learners to represent themselves in a customized, realistic, and dynamic form using their digital identities (i.e., avatars) [1] 

  • It leverages artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, and “Web3” to create immersive, 3D experiences[2]
  •  The metaverse also describes a not-so-distant future version of the Internet where human beings will use immersive technology to go [3], as well as a way for digital identities to move[4]

 Okay, but that is the future, not this year anyway. Back from the future . . .

What would an augmented reality e-learning experience entail?

“An augmented reality (AR) e-learning experience would entail an e-learning experience that combines real-world elements with digital content, typically through the use of mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. Some of the key features of an AR e-learning experience may include:

  1. Immersive learning: AR allows learners to experience the material more realistically and engagingly by overlaying digital information onto the real-world environment.
  2. Interactive simulations: AR can be used to create interactive simulations and visualizations that allow learners to explore and experiment with different concepts and scenarios in a safe and controlled environment.
  3. Gamification: AR can be used to create engaging and interactive learning games that make the learning experience more enjoyable and effective.
  4. Virtual field trips: AR can be used to create virtual field trips, allowing learners to visit and explore real-world locations and environments without leaving the classroom.
  5. Hands-on learning: AR can be used to create hands-on learning experiences, such as virtual dissections or laboratory simulations, which can help learners understand complex concepts and procedures.
  6. Contextualized learning: AR can provide learners with a contextualized learning experience, allowing them to see how the material is relevant to their everyday lives.
  7. Accessibility: AR e-learning can be designed to be accessible for learners with disabilities by providing audio descriptions and other accessibility features.
  8. Multimodal: AR e-learning can provide learners with a variety of modalities of learning, such as visual, auditory, and kinesthetic, making the learning experience more engaging and effective.”

Before you bounce, stay with this a moment more . . .

Next, “How could A.R. eLearning go mainstream?” The easy answer is to reprogram augmented reality gaming for education instead of games. Make education fun.

How might you want your avatar assistant to look and behave? Perhaps the avatar be a personal instructor while the learning is going on. It would be nice to have a digital instructor say “I’m not sure you are on the right track anymore” rather than learning by failure.

It would be nice to have the avatar be encouraging. “Congratulations (your name goes here), you completed this section and you’re on your way to graduation, keep up the good work!”

The personal assistant could remind you where you last left off and remind you what you have covered so far.

Since the avatar has AI built-in, you could have a sidebar conversation to fill in the blanks missing from the course material. Perhaps make the avatar a little testy when you go way off-topic. “I’m not sure where you are going with this, seems a little off-topic, would you agree?”

“Fascinating . . . “ as Mr. Spock would say.

A closer look

  1. “Immersive learning: AR allows learners to experience the material more realistically and engagingly by overlaying digital information onto the real-world environment.”

What the heck does that mean? Overlaying digital information onto the real-world environment?

Here’s my takeaway. Recall the Iron Man scene when Robert Downey Jr. is designing a 3d model using holographic and using hand motions to move digital objects. I can see manipulating digital objects as a learning experience. I’m fine with it.

Robert Downey Jr using Augmented Reality in Iron Man 2

2. “Interactive simulations: AR can be used to create interactive simulations and visualizations that allow learners to explore and experiment with different concepts and scenarios in a safe and controlled environment.”

Imagine this engineer building a car. The 3d parts of a subassembly popup to see how they fit and function together. Enter real-world stress parameters – vibration, heat, cold, rain, and electrical storms, for example. Do they hold up? Hit the go button and see the virtual results.

Or, do some maneuvers in zero gravity. Fix the space station with those clunky space suits on.

3.Gamification: AR can be used to create engaging and interactive learning games that make the learning experience more enjoyable and effective.”

On further analysis, solving puzzles and playing for points to graduate is all good fun. Maybe with so many gamers, bridging the cultural gap seems appealing. In my books though, the thrill of gaming doesn’t match my concept of a learning experience.

4. “Virtual field trips: AR can be used to create virtual field trips, allowing learners to visit and explore real-world locations and environments without leaving the classroom.”

Good one. When Google Earth first came out, the first thing I did was go on virtual field trips. Just think of going rock climbing, sky diving, or all those scary things without any consequences. Remember the Holo-court in Star Trek? We could have a field day with this one.

5. “Hands-on learning: AR can be used to create hands-on learning experiences, such as virtual dissections or laboratory simulations, which can help learners understand complex concepts and procedures.”

No animals were harmed in today’s lesson. This reminds me of E.T. – “Back to the woods, back to the forest” scene.

6. “Contextualized learning: AR can provide learners with a contextualized learning experience, allowing them to see how the material is relevant to their everyday lives.”

I think what my friend is trying to say is to translate words into visual action. Reading words is up to interpretation whereas seeing is worth a thousand words. The popularity of YouTube videos can attest to this concept.

7. “Accessibility: AR e-learning can be designed to be accessible for learners with disabilities by providing audio descriptions and other accessibility features.”

We do not discriminate. Everybody gets a chance to learn.

And finally,

8. “Multimodal: AR e-learning can provide learners with a variety of modalities of learning, such as visual, auditory, and kinesthetic, making the learning experience more engaging and effective.”

Seeing, hearing, and feeling provides a more life-like experience. Multimodal is fun, sometimes shocking, mostly fun.

What is the Augmented Reality experience like?

“Metaverse goggles, also known as augmented reality (AR) goggles, work by overlaying digital images and information onto the user’s view of the real world. This is achieved through the use of small projectors or displays in the goggles that beam the images directly onto the user’s retina. To achieve a 3D effect, the goggles use techniques such as stereoscopic projection or parallax barriers, which create the illusion of depth by showing slightly different images to each eye.

In terms of kinesthetic devices, there are a variety of options that can be used in tandem with AR goggles. Some examples include hand controllers, body suits, and gloves, which can track the user’s movements and translate them into the digital world. Additionally, many AR goggles use sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes to track the user’s head movements and adjust the projected image accordingly.”

Are there practical applications happening?

“Augmented reality (AR) technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in the business world. It is being used in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and education. In manufacturing, AR is being used to improve the efficiency of assembly lines and to train employees. In healthcare, AR is being used to visualize medical data and assist in surgical procedures. In retail, AR is being used to enhance the shopping experience and to create virtual storefronts. In education, AR is being used to create interactive learning experiences and to visualize complex concepts. While it’s still relatively new technology, its adoption has been growing rapidly, and it is expected to continue to do so in the coming years.”

Back to the future

How will web3 innovate in creating avatars?

“Web3 has the potential to innovate the creation of avatars in the following ways:

  • Decentralization: Avatars can be created and managed through decentralized systems on Web3, giving users more control and ownership over their online identity.
  • Immutable identity: Web3 technology can create a more secure and permanent online identity that cannot be tampered with or deleted by any single entity.
  • Interoperability: Web3 technology can enable avatars to interact and transact with other avatars on different platforms, creating a more connected and seamless online experience.
  • Personalization: Web3 technology can allow for more intricate and detailed customization of avatars, enabling users to express their unique individuality and personality.”

Wait. What about the ‘mainstream’ thing? Make us some cheap goggles that link to an Augmented Reality app on the cloud. That might do it.

References:

1 frontiersin.org

2 edtechteacher.org

3 harvard.edu

4 hechingerreport.org

5 ChatGPT

To T

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