7Scenes: Augmented Reality Authoring for Digital Storytelling

I’m very interested in augmented reality for interpreting/experiencing landscapes (archaeological or historical). I’ve explored things like Wikitude and Layar. There’s a great deal of flexibility and possibility with those two, if you’ve got the ability and resources to do a bit of programming. Skidmore College has used Layar with success to produce a Campus Map Layar. (follow that link for excellent pointers on how they did it). But what if you’d like to explore the potential of AR, but don’t have the programming skills?

One platform that I’ve come across recently which can help there is called ‘7Scenes‘. It explicitly bills itself as a ‘mobile storytelling platform’.  The free account allows you a basic ‘tour’ kind of story to tell; presumably if you purchase another kind of account, different genres become available to you.

I signed up for the free account, and began playing around with it (I’m ‘DoctorG’ if you’re looking). Even with this level of functionality, some playful elements are available – you can set quizzes by location, for instance, and keep score. A tour of your campus for first year students as part of orientation could include quizzes at crucial points.

In the editor window, you first select the genre. Then details (backstory, introduction etc).

The real work begins in the map window. When you add a location, you can make it trigger information or photos when the player encounters it. You can also build in simple quizzes, as in the screenshot.

Once the ‘scene’ is published, anyone with 7scenes on their smartphone can access it. The app knows where you are, and pulls in the closest scene. In about 15 minutes I created a scene with 3 locations, one photo, one info panel, and one quiz, around the main quad here at Carleton. Then, I fired up the app on my iphone and went outside. Even though it was quite simple, it was really rather engaging, wandering about the quad trying to get close enough to the point to trigger the interaction (note to scene makers: zoom into the map interface so that your location is precisely where you want. I put my first point actually outside my intended target, Paterson Hall, so I was wandering about the parking lot.)

I will be playing with this some more; but fired up after only a short investment in time, I wanted to share. The authoring environment makes sense, it’s easy to use, and the results are immediately apparent. When you log back into the 7scenes site, you also get use metrics and reviews of your scene. If only my digital history students had more smartphones!

More on 7scenes from their own press page

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Educational Tour Guide

I recently took a group of faculty from Brock University on a tour of some educational sites within Second Life. If you or your organization are thinking of exploring some of the educational possibilities in Second Life, why not contact me and I’ll arrange a bespoke tour to places that suit your interests? It’s a big world…