Coloring books get an augmented reality face lift from researchers

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This traditional activity for children can now bring on a 3D experience through mobile devices.

There isn’t anything new about having a child sit down with a box of crayons to bring a color to a black and white image in a coloring book, but researchers have now added augmented reality to the experience that could allow kids to see a three dimensional version of their projects through the screens of smartphones or tablets.

With the right AR app, the drawing is monitored and a child can enjoy an enhanced experience from the activity.

For example, if a child were to fill in a coloring book image of an elephant, just as he or she usually would, the augmented reality would make it possible for the colors to be filled in on a tablet or smartphone screen in real-time and can bring an animated, 3D version of that elephant to life on the device screen. That animation is then integrated into the video that the child can watch.

The augmented reality app maintains its core focus on the typical coloring activity while enhancing what is viewed.

Augmented Reality - Image of Coloring PencilsOn top of the image the child is coloring, it creates an AR overlay on top of reality that enhances the engagement between the child and the image being colored. The preliminary user testing conducted by researchers was conducted with adults instead of children. What they determined was the majority of users said that their motivation for drawing within the coloring books was increased through the use of the app. In fact 80 percent of the participants in this study said that using the mobile app increased the connection that they felt with a character in the book.

The researchers were from ETH Zurich, the EPFL university in Switzerland, and from Disney. They made a presentation of this new AR technology based experience in Fukuoka, Japan, at the IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR 2015).

While the research is currently being shared primarily within scientific circles, it has already made its way through the tech transfer process, which has already brought to life the Disney Publishing Worldwide and Bendon partnership augmented reality product that was launched earlier in 2015, called “Disney Color and Play”.

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