Virtual reality may be hogging all the attention at the moment, but augmented reality still has its place, and there are a growing number of apps out there that are making the most of this established, and ever-improving technology. We tried out Octagon Studio’s 4D+ series of AR apps, which inject a lot of fun into educational tools.
Before we get to the educational part, let’s start with the cool stuff. Octagon demonstrated its Wear 4D+ app, which instead of using flashcards or product packaging as the catalyst for its AR visions, uses your t-shirt. Images of dinosaurs — the focus of its new line in education apps — came alive when viewed through a phone or tablet, and for once, the result wasn’t underwhelming.
That has always been AR’s problem. The images didn’t look great, the animation was substandard, and it didn’t always work. Not so with Octagon’s Wear 4D+. This is what augmented reality should be like; great-looking, grin-inducing fun. The dinos came out of the shirt, wandered about, and even interacted with other AR dinos if they happened to be nearby. The animation looked cool, the app worked each time it was demoed to me and others, and best of all, it made us smile. You can view 10 different cards at one time, and each image can be zoomed in on, rotated, and closely examined.
Augmented reality (and virtual reality, for that matter) has to have a ‘wow’ factor, and Octagon’s t-shirt AR app succeeded in making our day a little brighter. Using the apps with flashcards will never be quite as cool as seeing a t-shirt come alive, but they still have the same smooth animation and strong performance. The dinosaur pack is the latest addition to the family, which also includes animals, the alphabet, and space. There are important little touches in each pack. For example, in the space pack, AR planets are all surrounded by their orbiting moons. It’s through the flash cards and the information in the app that kids can learn about the subjects.
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We also saw an AR coloring book made by Octagon. Coloring in the pictures on the page resulted in a cartoon AR image, when you looked at it in the app. Did you give the character green hair with yellow flecks on one side? Great, that’s exactly how it looks in AR. Octagon’s efforts prove that used creatively, cleverly, and with restraint, AR can still be fun in a world obsessed with VR.
Want to have a try? You can. All the apps are free to download through Google Play or the iOS App Store, but you have to buy the flashcards, which cost between $10 and $12.50 each. The special AR t-shirts are listed as coming soon on the company’s website, although it’s not clear whether they’ll be sold internationally. They better be, because who wouldn’t want an AR dinosaur t-shirt?