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Augmented Reality in the Wood Shop

by Dan McWilliam

This year I am trying a new elective where students use their creativity and engineering skills to create anything they want from two 2x4 pieces of wood. While the final product is up to the students, the goal of the elective is to have students go through the process of planning, drafting, revising and creating a final product.

One of the first steps of the elective was for students to create a model of their woodworking piece using Google Sketchup. They did this back in September when the elective started.

Recently I have been experimenting with Augmented Reality and in particular the Sightspace3D application for the iPad. This app also the user to project any 3D object created in Google SketchUp (on a laptop or desktop) into real life using Augmented Reality. This means that students can virtually 'walk around' a design and examine it from all sides in the real, physical world.

The process is as follows:
Once they have created their 3D model to scale in Sketchup, they export the file as a .kmz file which is then sent to the device with the app. By opening the attachment from an email, Sightspace 3D will open and the model is viewable. Select AR mode and the model will be placed near the device. The app uses the camera to view the Augmented layer of the student project in the real life space. You can then walk around the object to get a full 3D view.

What I have found so far is that the smaller the object the tougher it has been to navigate around, though you are able to make size and position adjustments with your finger. The app includes a camera icon to capture the Sketchup object in the Real World.

The example below shows iPad screenshots of a 3D-designed image that a student created in Google Sketch two months ago placed in the real world beside an their final object created out of wood. Using their iPads, students can now walk around and examine both objects together.

I'm excited about the possibilities...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your focus on fostering student creativity and engineering skills. In keeping with the fundamentals of inquiry-based learning, you provide the tools and basic skills and then encourage the students to explore and to be creative. It is great to see the examples of the student work. Your students will pick up on the enthusiasm which is reflected in your blog. Garry McKinnon

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