Grounds of future play

21 09 2010

Two weekends ago I went to an education resources expo at the Brisbane Convention Centre – mainly as a bid to get freebs. I arrived a little late but still managed to catch some of a seminar, a few free posters, petted a snake and a lizard, and entered in as many lucky draws as possible (and possibly signing my boss up for swades of spam – sorry…).

Two things caught my eye in particular. And I’ll share one now – The SmartUs Digital Playground (their Finnish website).

The whole set up is very futuristic. Kids are issued with RFID smart cards that can be recognised by readers scattered throughout the playground. They login at the main portal and are assigned a task (run from point A to B via C three times, or something more complex) and the computer records their time. This time is recorded on an international online network where kids from different schools, or even different countries, can compare each others times and records.

Additional tasks and learning can also be integrated by assigning different nodes answers to a multi-choice quiz. This also comes into play by the presence of a dancepad hooked up to the main video monitor of the playground as well. This can be used for quizzes, fitness, dancing or simon-type games.

In Finland, it even became the basis of a family/children’s gameshow which involved celebrities and national atheletes, called FunTzu. Again, these TV scores were uploaded online, so schoolkids could challenge their idols. Unfortunately I can’t find any videos of the TV show – but after some searching I have found a news item of Asia’s first SmartUs playground in Hong Kong which shows how it works.

Tapping into children’s natural competitive behaviour, and then combining it with social media and massively multiplayer gaming Lappset have really hit the mark (or market). The only real downsides to it I can see are the initial outlay costs (which you can guess would be quite high) and also the pitfall of having ‘standardised cookie cutter playgrounds’ that don’t have their own individual community flavour. There also might be other hudles here in Australia given EQ’s stance on students and social networks.

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If you are having trouble understanding the election

21 08 2010

Hat tip: Dave the Happy Singer

You can learn much from this video which offers a brief overview of recent politics and issues in Australia.

Yes. It is true. In Australia we choose our leader by dangling rancid meat and political portraits before a crocodile pit and hurl beer cans at those crocodiles.





Tatts amazing

19 07 2010

Given they also sell tinned unicorn meat, I’m not sure how seriously to take Think Geek’s changeable body modification tool, moodINQ, but it does look pretty cool.

Okay it’s clearly hypothetical at the moment – an implant under the skin looks like a tattoo, but wifi signals would allow it to be reprogrammed to change design at your whim. Useful for looking neat at a pool party with your uptight boss, or at the beach with your girlfriend’s parents, or grocery shopping reminders.

It may seem like a total joke now, but could it be real in the near future?

Tattoo aficionados may also like to check out last week’s Spicks and Specks (ep 25). It turns out the latest Wiggle, Sam Moran, has a couple of tatts – one of them involves an angel that is only visible under a black light.





Don’t worry nurse, its a *healing* sword

30 05 2010

I’m all up for learning in gaming, and even for gaming in learning (more on that story later), so the story of Healing Blade intrigues me. It even has a trailer.

A company called Nerdcore Learning has released what looks like a Magic: The Gathering Style Trading Card Game (TGC) that is supposed to help medical students remember what antibiotics they should be using for particular infections. It also mixes things up with cards for antibiotic resistance, as well as broad-spectrum antibiotics. I’m am quaking at the sight of Bacillus athrancis and his hordes of sparkly butterflies.

Yes. Your future doctor will have learned how to cure your ails by playing a medical-themed version of Yugi-Oh. Oh, dear, what?*

I wonder if they will release an OVA, or at least a web-comic.

If your interested in medical card games for younger demographics, there’s always Zygote Games’ Parasites Unleashed.

*Actually I’m far more worried about the med student likening his practice of medicine to Mass Effect





Time travellers caught on film

24 04 2010

Look at the picture below. This is quite likely an actual unedited 1940s photograph of the reopening of a bridge in British Columbia.

Can you spot the alleged time traveler?

What are your immediate thoughts and explanations?

Full story and investigation at forgetomori. It probably is not a hoax. But it also probably is not time travel. And it is interesting nonetheless.

Interesting quote on the ‘why then and there’ skeptical thinking: “Of course, because we know nothing happened there right? But if we are considering time travel, how can we know if in some other timeline something historical happened right there?”





Sixth Sense: The world is your touchscreen

21 04 2010

Here is the TED video I snuck in at the end of the previous post. It is just way too amazing to miss.Pranav Mistry from India explains the amazing potential of the “Sixth Sense” interactive media device. No psychics involved, I promise.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potentia…“, posted with vodpod





A world without paper cuts

20 04 2010

Reading with an iPod You're doing it wrong

It could well soon be the world we live in.

A world without electrical shocks and stomach burns may be another story for another day.

I will admit to a love/hate relationship with paper over the last 25 years. For the pursuit of drawings, doodles, story writing, schoolwork, reports, certificates, laboratory notes, my thesis, and, yes, I’ll even admit pen and paper roleplaying games, countless forests have been sacrificed , and in my shame I have been loathe to just throw them away. At my mother’s there still remains a suitcase filled with 3 years worth of undergraduate biomed notes and study guides that I have yet to throw away, because ‘I went to all that trouble’ and ‘maybe it will be of use one day’.

I blame my mother for not buying me a computer and exposing me to digital media. These days I have been making progress in keeping my teacher-in-the-making resources more digitally based (powerpoints, activity pdfs, and lists of links) – but I still have a growing colony of paper sheets that I have had to recently sanction a humanitarian cull of over the Easter weekend. The new heater screen and my ipod touch will try and keep my digital honour intact. Read the rest of this entry »