Distracting Kids with Mixed Reality

The other night after a long day of being poorly at home, Tanooki had some trouble moving his neck. Not wanting to take any chances, we took him into the emergency room to get checked out in case of potential meningitis (spoiler alert: it was just viral tonsillitis and his glands were swollen).

After a two hour wait at the hospital, we’re all pretty tired and at some point we handed the phone over so that he could be distracted. As a complete coincidence, Tanooki happened to have been looking at the shARk app by Curiscope – the premise is simple. You hold up your device, and whatever the back camera sees shows on your screen. Then the augmented/virtual (or mixed as we’re calling it now) is superimposed on top. In this app, a portal opens, and a shark comes out. You then move your device around the room to follow the shark and feed it.

The doctor was the first person to clock what was happening and asked me to hold it up and to the left: “Hey Tanooki, what’s up here?” – then to the right and so on, and it worked perfectly. He followed wherever we put it to see if the shark was there.

It’s a simple little parent hack, but it certainly worked in the moment.

Author: Papa Makes

Papa Makes is run by Jim Christian. A keen edtech advocate and author, Jim has written “How to Code in Minecraft” for Dennis Publishing and “How to Think Like a Coder: Without Even Trying!” for Pavilion Books.

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