Augmented Reality (AR) is a form of Virtual Reality (VR) where physical, real-world environments are supplemented by computer-generated audio-visuals. While AR is often used for entertainment or data intensive productivity applications, it’s also quite useful for education. That’s where something like the Think in Toys AR Animal Educational Game comes in, which uses physical cards and your iOS- or Android-based tablet or smartphone to engage preschool age children and teach them about various land and sea animals, insects, and dinosaurs.
The packaging is rather nice, much like a good board game. There’s a slipcover that goes over a plastic tray with five compartments that hold five different sets of cards. You also get a simple instruction manual with a QR code for the app itself and then a QR code good for unlocking the app on up to three devices. After you use the QR code scanning software of your choice on the app QR code, you download and run the AR animal app, which will eventually ask you to use one of your unlock QR codes.
Once the app is up and running, you place one of the cards on a flat surface and then interact with the creature on the screen. One finger rotates the creature horizontally, two fingers moves the animal, and moving two fingers out or in makes the animal bigger or smaller, respectively. You can also tap the creature to get it to do different things, like swim or fly. While you’re interacting with the creature, a narrator describes the animal. While the narrators don’t seem to be high level professionals, the information provided about the animal is decent and certainly appropriate for the toddler target audience.
This is definitely a fun AR experience, but how much you get out of it will depend upon how much time you spend with your toddler using it. While our 18 month old loves using her iPad and the iPhone, she’s still a bit too young to use this unsupervised. As expected, it’s also tough to get her to keep the cards in one place. Nevertheless, as she gets a bit older, I would expect her patience and focus to improve and to get even more educational value out of this.
Thanks to Think in Toys for the review unit.