Ori Inbar over at Games Alfresco is doing a pretty top-notch job of getting me excited about this year's International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality, or ISMAR, where I'm going to be a student volunteer. For example, who wouldn't feel giddy when they saw a program that could turn sketches made on paper into working 3D virtual models in real time?
Today I finally got the chance to look at the schedule in more detail. There are a few sessions that I feel are must-see's for me, so hopefully my volunteer schedule can somehow accommodate this. At the very least, I hope I can do my duties in the rooms where these talks happen!
There have been indications scattered throughout some of my past posts that I really wanted to do augmented reality for my PhD research. Lately I've been feeling more and more certain that I want to explore educational entertainment that makes use of augmented reality. My current vision involves building games for kids that help them learn computer science concepts, kind of like CS Unplugged does, but on an individual basis.
I hope to explore two main areas: first, I would love to look at how well children understand augmented reality and what interfaces are best suited for them; and second, based on those results, I want to build such an interface. I somewhat expect that kids will need some kind of tangible component to best understand augmented reality, as they don't seem to be very abstract in general, so I'm hoping there will be some major (or at least somewhat major) new technological aspects to explore.
Based on this, Monday's workshop Falling in Love with Learning: Education and Entertainment Converge is an obvious choice for me. If I could do nothing else all conference, I think I would walk away satisfied.
A close contender for top choice is my second must-see: Tuesday's tutorial on AR Game Design, given by Blair MacIntyre of Georgia Tech. You know, I never really knew much about Georgia Tech before about a year ago, being a Canadian who can't keep track of all the schools down in the good ol' US of A. But once I started to see the amazing videos of their projects, they gained a lot of respect from me. No wonder they seem to rank in top schools for computer science! Anyway, the connection of this workshop to my thesis ideas should be obvious.
Finally, there is a talk in the Arts, Media, and Humanities Track that I'm also pretty pumped about. It's called Science Meets Fiction: Imagining the Future of Mixed and Augmented Reality. Aside from the inspiration for new ideas that I expect to get from this session, the speaker's affiliation is rather intriguing. He's a Disney Imagineer, something I learned about thanks to Randy Pausch's Last Lecture. I never really cared to go to Disney World until I heard about the Imagineers. Now I want to go solely to see what cool tech they've come up with!
So that's what's making me excited as I write my packing list for ISMAR. I fly out tomorrow and hope to document as much of what I see for you guys as I have time for. I am bringing my Nikon D90, which has a built-in video feature, so watch for photos and videos, too!