March 30, 2015

People are Strange

When you're strange, 
Faces come out of the rain; 
When you're strange, 
No one remembers your name;
When you're strange, 
When you're strange, 
When you're strange.
The Doors, “People are Strange”

People are strange. There’s a peculiar disconnect I sometimes find coming from both educational 3D detractors and 3D supporters—and it’s mystifying. Here ‘s one example:

Are 3D sales folks and even 3D educators merely tire kickers? Is that part of the problem? At a 3D conference held at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge, an MIT keynote speaker asked how many folks in the audience owned a 3D TV or device themselves.  I quickly raised my hand.  But less than ten percent of the audience, mostly represented by 3D manufacturers and 3D-using educators, joined me. That represents a huge disconnect. Folks want to make money off this technology—or deploy it in their educational setting—but still don’t appear committed, at a personal level, themselves.

People are strange.

March 23, 2015

3D P Resources

Many folks are interested in the physical production aspects of 3D these days, namely 3D printing. If you are interested in learning more about 3D printing specifically for the classroom setting, here are my recommendations for the best books on the market, a good place to get started:

March 16, 2015

Analog 3D Magic

Teachers always have days when the network is down or the lab is closed due to upgrades or testing. That’s when you need to pull something analog out of your digital magician’s hat to survive. (Yes, every great teacher is also a miracle-working magician!)

Here’s a 3D idea for a quick, motivating, and hands-on replacement activity for those moments when your network or computers go south. Drawing in 3D seems to be an activity that works somewhat like anamorphic 3D, so it’s interesting on several levels.

March 9, 2015

Smartur3D Raises the Ante

To date we have counted 33 major software producers of stereo 3D educational content, worldwide. Now there are 34. A new arrival to the 3D software scene, Smartur3D is raising the ante with their unique value proposition.

Smartur3D produces interactive 3D models in K-12 STEM subjects. Smartur3D offers 150 models in biology,with other subjects (chemistry, physics, and geography) coming. These interactive 3D models can be used in flexible formats: in high-definition rendered 3D, stereo 3D, or even as an augmented reality overlay. Looking at the navigation menu, I immediately recognized that this content was built on the Unity game engine, offering some familiar commands and features (e.g., explode, disassemble, ‘glassy’ transparent mode, hiding elements, and reset). But that’s where the Smartur3D advantage (educational value proposition) comes into play. More advanced capabilities are offered, richer than what we have seen with the typical ‘exploratory’ nature of most 3D interactives. For example, students can label elements as opposed to the computer doing it; elements can be highlighted; a drawing tool enables annotation of elements; and a customization toolbar allows for personalized navigational choices.

There are other very powerful differentiators, as well, features that set Smartur3D apart from the crowd. Some of these features include on-the-fly image capture and recording of interactive events for lecture creation or reshowing in a later class. (The teacher can build an animation, annotate it, record what she is doing and saying, title it—and then save it for later replay.)

Smartur3D also permits overlaying augmented reality images on live video. (Only one other company has merged the stereo 3D and the augmented reality worlds effectively —zSpace.)  Smartur3D lets the educator take a 3D object from a 3D model and place it as an augmented reality overlay. It’s quite attention getting. (Think of it as embedding an augmented reality object over a live video scene of your own classroom of students, while they are watching.)

Another advantage offered by Smartur3D is simplicity and flexibility in installation. These are not small matters, as over-complexity and technical constraints become deal breakers for many schools. Smartur3D can be installed via a CD or network, put on high-end or low-end laptops or computers, and even displayed on projectors, 3D displays, or interactive white boards.

Since cost makes or breaks technology use for schools, Smartur 3D is also innovating in licensing. “We wanted a price point that even [emerging markets] could afford,” explained Neeraj Jewalkar  of Smartur3D. The price of the entire Smartur3D corpus for an entire school (not just one teacher), regardless of the size of school is $99 per year, per school.  “The whole idea is to create something that is affordable,” adds Jewalkar. “And despite the fact that it is already affordable, we are going to give away the first year of Smartur3D for free for a whole year for anyone who signs up.”

March 2, 2015

Is 3D Slowing Down?

Finally, in our last post in this series, let’s use Google Books Ngram Viewer to take a look at what’s been happening to 3D within a digital content publishing environment:

Although it looks like the steep expansion curve has halted, there is more to it. If you drill down individually on Russian, Spanish, French, and German language usage of the term “3D” in digital content, you can clearly see that the growth and interest is still booming. It’s chiefly the English-speaking world that is experiencing a declining trajectory for 3D as a cultural meme.  But we knew that already, in the U.S. And we know that growth in Asia, the Middle East, and South America remains festive.

Of course, there’s a lot more than can be done with Ngram Viewer to understand current memes, culturematics, and trends in your own ventures. For leaning about 3D, or any other potential topic, take a look at Ngram Viewer.