StoryBox AR - Augmented Reality Storytelling for Schools

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PrimeVR is now offering Augmented Reality workshops in schools, bringing topics to life through exciting and immersive storytelling experiences. We sat down with Stuart, the founder of PrimeVR, to find out a little bit more about their new AR app for education, StoryBox AR, and see how they plan to revolutionise the storytelling experience for primary school children.

Good afternoon, Stuart. What is StoryBox AR?

StoryBox AR is a new idea that we developed during the coronavirus lockdown. It's an app specifically designed for iPad and harnesses the power of Apple's ARKit to bring topic specific stories to life through narration and augmented reality.

We have started by focusing on KS2, specifically writing stories for WW2 and the Romans. Each story is between 2,000-3,500 words and is professionally narrated by voice over actors, as well as including sound effects to help bring it to life.

Each story is split into five short chapters and an aspect of AR is included at the end of each chapter to help pupils feel immersed in the story.

Can you just clarify for our readers what you mean by Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR) is a form of technology which allows users to place 3D digital objects in their physical surroundings. These digital objects can be viewed through a device screen, such as an iPad or smartphone. This is different to VR, where users are immersed in a completely virtual world, entirely separate from their physical surroundings.

How do you use AR in your app to bring stories to life?

Every one of our immersive stories comes with five separate AR interactions, one at the end of each chapter. We use two different types of AR technology with our stories, one for setting the scene or environment and another for bringing characters to life.

Using the power of Apple's ARKit, we bring settings and environments to life using AR portals. Using an iPad, pupils can place a portal door in front of them and then walk through into a different world. Once inside the AR portal, pupils can look all around 360 degrees to help them visualise what it would be like as the central character in the story. In addition to visualising a story setting, pupils will also be able to hear atmospheric audio which will add to the feeling of immersion. Each of our stories includes two AR portals to help set the scene at different times.

You can see a short example of an AR portal below.

Another way of bringing a story to life is to provide pupils with the opportunity to see characters come to life at pivotal moments. Using an iPad, pupils will be able to place a character in front of them that will be animated with gestures and speech. Pupils will be able to move their iPads around a character to see what they look like and how they are interacting.

You can see a short example of a 3D character coming to life below.

Are you only offering workshops or can schools access StoryBox AR on their own?

Initially, we are only going to be offering StoryBox AR through our workshops. A member of our team will arrive at your school with fifteen iPads and they will set up the experience and run it from start to finish. Our team does not require an internet connection at your school and they are able to control all of the student devices from a teacher guided device.

StoryBox AR will be launching for workshops with only two immersive stories available - Romans and WW2. Once the concept has been tested in schools, we will be creating additional stories to add to the app. Some of these will include Stone Age, Pirates, Egyptians, Knights and Dragons and Vikings. Once StoryBox AR has a number of stories on offer, schools will be able to access the app and all the creative writing resources through a yearly subscription.

Is augmented reality suitable for all ages?

Unlike VR, augmented reality is far more accessible to primary schools. Not only can AR be used with iPads (which is one of the most popular devices in primary schools) but it can also be used across all year groups. Some VR headset headsets and experiences prohibit KS1 and EYFS from taking part but a high proportion of children are able to access and use iPads/tablets by the time they start school.

What resources do you provide to teachers to go along with your immersive stories?

StoryBox AR aims to provide pupils with an experience which will open up their imaginations and inspire creative writing. During each experience, teachers will have access to resources which will encourage pupils to make notes and jot down different things that they see and hear. These notes can then be used to jog pupils' memories after the experience and will help them when it comes to the follow up writing activities.

For example, following the Romans immersive story, pupils will be asked to write a sequel story from the perspective of the main character. There will also be a number of other writing activities for pupils, such as diary entries and letters. The aim of all our stories is to provide an immersive experience for pupils' topics and encourage an excellent piece of writing.

What sort of space do you require for using the app?

Preferably, you need a large open space like a school hall. StoryBox AR can be used with classes of all sizes and the teacher/student control functionality allows teachers and workshop leaders to maintain good behaviour management and a smooth delivery.

Pupils will be required to physically walk through an AR portal and move around a 3D character, so it's important that there is plenty of space for movement and pupils are aware of their surroundings.

If you are interested in booking an augmented reality workshop for your school or finding out more about the StoryBox AR app, visit us at www.storyboxar.com or email stuart@storyboxar.com to have a chat.

If you would like us to help you plan your school's next visit or workshops, please use the form below to tell us what you are looking for.







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