Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Letting Go of Reality

In the past, let's say until about 10,000 years ago, I guess life was still pretty "real" but, even then, there were already examples of simulated reality in the form of cave paintings dating back more than 30,000 years ago.

Today we are used to living in a variety of "realities":

(1) Reality is the real, physical world (RR) that includes nature and the built environment.

(2) Augmented Reality (AR) is the real world enhanced with traditional or digital information like trails and text panels in nature preserves or apps on your iPhone. The SixthSense augmented reality system lets you project a phone pad onto your hand (left).

(3) Simulated Reality (SR) like theme parks, museum exhibits and themed restaurants. The photo on the right is a yacht that has a simulated island on the top deck so you can take your paradise with you.

(4) Virtual reality (VR) in which a digital world is substituted for the real world such as in a flight simulator or video game.

Whatever combination of realities you prefer, designers have had some hand in creating them. Schools, and the whole learning experience, are being transformed by an increasing use of the full spectrum of realities. Some students still dissect real frogs in biology classes and others learn the parts of a frog through simulated or virtual dissections.

Imagine what the experience of schooling will be like when students have access to a full panoply of Reality, Augmented Reality, Simulated Reality and Virtual Reality through design and design education. Then school will no longer need to be one of the "unhappiest" places on Earth.

Click on the heading above to see more views of the floating island yacht on a site called TechBlog. What kind of simulated paradise can you and your students create in your school?

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