Apple’s refreshed iPad has Pencil support and opens up a world of augmented reality apps, especially for kids
The poor humble old frog has been ripped open on dissection tables in schools for decades. That unpleasant (certainly for the frog) and unhygienic practice could be entirely abandoned today thanks to technology, available on an iPad.
Apple’s ‘regular’ 9.7-inch iPad has recently been upgraded and made available in India. It costs ₹28,000 for the 32 GB variant with Wi-Fi and ₹38,600 for the 32 GB Wi-Fi and Cellular model. There are a growing number of exciting augmented reality apps now available on the App Store. They span all categories, from airport navigation to richly immersive games, but among them are educational AR apps that bring learning alive for children.
The new iPad now also has Pencil support. Apple’s stylus can be bought separately for ₹7,600 and while that adds significantly to the tablet’s cost, it’s a great tool for interacting with what’s on screen. When used with AR apps, it creates a bit of magic. Suddenly, the iPad makes more sense than ever for school children who can now even dissect a frog virtually and without the mess.
Froggipedia, an AR app available for ₹299 on the App Store, lets a user peel away layers with the Pencil to get right in and see precise anatomical details.
The impressive Froggipedia app was actually developed last year by an Ahmedabad-based company, Designmate, and has been showcased at Apple’s WWDC event as part of the presentation on ARKit. It’s quite an example of how augmented reality fits right into education.
Biology comes alive
Froggipedia puts a frog right in front of you, say on a table, from where you can see it from every angle — taking screenshots if you like. You can dissect to whatever level you want and get additional information on the frog’s life-cycle.
The life-like quality of an experience like with the Froggipedia app is possible because of the speed and power that is now housed in the iPad with the inclusion of the A10 Fusion chip.
Powerful AR performance
The refreshed iPad is now like a large viewfinder for immersive AR experiences. The enhanced cameras working with the gyroscope and accelerometer make for precise motion tracking — which is what AR needs. The Retina display brings alive apps like Froggipedia. But enabling the use of the Pencil makes for totally new interactions with the iPad.
The Pencil first came with the iPad Pro, a more powerful and more expensive version of the tablet targeted at professionals. Now it’s within the reach of general consumers. Apple, in fact, quietly works with a selection of schools, specifically with the iPad and Pencil to bring in new educational activities. The fluidity, lag-free movement and pressure sensitivity also makes the iPad-Pencil combo very enjoyable to use, which means that users can be more creative and absorbed.
Learning made fun
With AR, school lessons come to life in ways that haven’t been possible before, with abstract concepts transforming into virtual objects that can be manipulated, altered and examined. It isn’t just frogs but the human body that can be explored in great depth as well. InsightHeart is an app that allows you to drop a transparent human body, complete with the thumping heart, on a surface in front of you. Move around with the iPad to learn more about the heart.
In a WWF app, an interactive model of real locations such as the Himalayas or the African Savannah can be virtually placed on a table and one can go around it, move close or far to see more of the area, and interact to build dams and understand how water can be managed.
Another truly impressive app is GeoGebra AR, which turns 3D graphs of mathematical equations into virtual objects that you can walk around and see through. You can see the effects of altering variables of a trigonometric function, for instance. The app has you zooming in to understand the underlying concepts.
Seeing how children can’t resist dinosaurs, an AR Jurassic Park app called Monster Park will let you see them up close in your room and even take pictures. This and many apps are free, such as Holo, the AR app that lets you enhance your videos and photos with characters like Spider-Man. BBC has an AR Civilisations app, which brings treasures from ancient worlds up in front of you. In this way there’s an AR Train Museum app, an AR Airplane Museum app and a ton of others that can keep both children and adults occupied and learning.