Recently I was able to attend the Connected Learning Summit at MIT’s MediaLab in Cambridge, MA. Representing my own institution of higher-ed, I was anxious to see what others were delving into in the world of high technology.  



It was no surprise to see the usual suspects of Augmented and Virtual Reality in the forms of HTC Vives, Oculus, Google DayDreams, etc. What excited me was to see how the teams were using the platforms to blend and bend realities. Utilizing the advanced tracking systems, experiences brought guests beyond an isolating head-mounted-display (HMD) into the physical world. Data was captured and represented in novel forms, blurring the lines of play and information gathering/sharing.


Another stand-out from the front lines was artificial intelligence (AI). These powerful tools are becoming more readily available for us all to tinker with. AI can even be found in commercially available robotic “pets”, like Anki’s upcoming Vector (Cozmo’s older brother).  



Finally, after billions of dollars and perhaps even more hype, Magic Leap has released their augmented reality headset to select locations. Having an increased field of view (FOV) over any current option for augmented reality (though Microsoft’s Hololens 2 is looming), the highly valued behemoth shows that AR has a lot of room to mature.  




Key tech-aways (take-aways) TL;DR:

Connected play (think digitally connected board games) is on its way in full force thanks to smaller components, AI, computer vision, and exceptional tracking systems.

Augmented Reality has a long ways to go, even after billions have been invested and development kits have been rolled out (ARCore and ARKit).

Don’t underestimate the power/capability of the device in your pocket!  Learn to develop on the devices that are tech-light years ahead of the tools which sent people to the moon!

John Balash was instrumental in Digital Dragon’s launch in 2013 as its first Curriculum Director and is now back in the fold as a consultant on all the latest and greatest in tech education. This is John’s first contribution to a new blog that we are launching in a monthly series, Tech News from the Frontier. John is the Director of Educational Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. John has worked on educationally focused initiatives with clients ranging from D.A.R.P.A. to Disney. Working from both sides of the desk, you can find John in classrooms and conferences around the world exploring new uses for technologies in learning environments.