Here we will dive into some of 2017’s most notable emerging technology. Three of the largest tech companies in the world in Apple, Google, and Microsoft each have something interesting in store for us. What we can’t wait to see is these technologies being applied in education! Not only will some of these technologies have classroom applications, but more importantly they present learning opportunities in the home!

Apple ARkit

Coming with the release of iOS 11 and the iPhone 8 this fall will be Apple’s new ARkit. ARkit is a platform that allows app developers to create augmented reality-based apps by using the hardware and software already found on iPhones and iPads. Allowing access to the built in camera as well as motion and ambient sensors, developers will be able to place virtual content on top of real-word environments.

There are many anticipated uses for the new platform such as “interactive gaming, immersive shopping experiences, industrial design and more” says Apple. We choose to focus on this “and more” element by recognizing the potential applications in the education technology sector. Over the course of the next few years we anticipate an influx of educational apps that will be available to consumers like us! Parents will be able to download these apps on to their device to allow children to learn while they enjoy using a phone or tablet! This will allow parents to help their children learn more outside of the classroom – something that you can never have enough of!

This video should help you understand what exactly developers will be doing with this technology at it’s most basic level:

As you will have noticed from the video demonstration, the capability of this technology to place virtual images into your current surroundings is quite interesting. Still wondering how this can apply to education? Picture this: your son or daughter– at home or in a classroom – using their mobile phone or tablet to examine the structure of a molecule. Or perhaps an engineering student examining a 3D model to examine how each piece of a machine works together! Not enough for you? How about a medical student or simply a young learner examining the different components of the human body by examining the heart, and going INSIDE organs to see it in a way that no other experience can provide. But don’t worry teachers, you will always be needed to guide students’ learning experience through instruction and demonstration of the use of this technology! While technology is a valuable tool in the classroom, the value cannot be exposed without a teacher their to guide the students through the learning process. There must always be a balance of human instruction along with the technology!

The ARkit holds a great deal of potential and education is one element that mustn’t be overshadowed. Technology like this is the future of education, and we can’t wait to see it start being utilized to it’s full capacity! Whether at school or in the home, we welcome this tech as it presents a valuable learning opportunity for our children.

Microsoft HoloLens

Augmented reality (AR) is still in the early stages of its life but we are already seeing some incredible applications for it! Even smaller scale applications like Brainspace uses the technology to integrate print and digital material! Microsoft HoloLens is certainly no exception to that remark as it takes augmented reality to a whole new level. After being under development for the past few years, it is only recently that we are beginning to see the final product. Whereas most AR practices involve the use of a mobile device or tablet, Microsoft has gone ahead and built some headgear that can be worn rather than holding a device. While this piece of technology is rather expensive at the moment, we can imagine there will be far more basic versions that will become available weather from Microsoft themselves, or other companies that will make it more accessible for home use!

Whereas virtual reality completely immerses the user in a digital world, an augmented reality headset such as the HoloLens places digital images on top of the real world, so that the user can still see the real world around them. This is a very important element to the device as it allows teachers to remain in physical contact with their students. While technology is continuing to infiltrate the education sector, the best way for it to be effective is by combining its use with the instruction from a teacher.

While their are surely commercial applications for businesses to use this technology, the HoloLens most certainly has applicable functions in the education sector. Similar to the ARkit, this tech can be used to examine 3D models in a variety of fields. This is where Augmented reality holds the advantage over virtual reality. When presented with a 3D model, a teacher can look at it with you and talk you through the components to ensure full comprehension. This allows teachers to work more closely with the students and provided a more personalized learning experience!

Where the HoloLens differs from other typical augmented reality products, is the degree of interaction with the models. Watch this video for a demonstration on how the HoloLens will be used.

Hopefully in watching the video you will have noticed the use of hand gestures by those wearing the HoloLens. This is where the capabilities of this device exceeds other methods of utilizing augmented reality. When apps begin rolling out developed with Apple’s ARkit, the only way to interact with them will be by touching the screen on your device, or walking around the digital model. In the case of the HoloLens, a simple hand gesture will rotate, expand, shrink or relocate your digital object in an effort to provide a higher level of immersion.

With the Microsoft HoloLens, we are presented with the opportunity to provide today’s students with an experience that at a time, nobody thought was actually even possible! It is technology like this that is changing the education industry to benefit the learning of the next generation of students. Teachers will soon find student engagement levels much higher!

Google Home

Google has set out to integrate your entire home. Though not the first we have seen of this type of technology (Amazon Echo), the new Google Home is the first to do so in Canada. Summon your Google Home by using simple voice commands, such as “Ok Google” and it will be ready to carry out your instruction. The device is always listening (Unless you mute it, that is) so there is no need to make any physical contact with the device to interact with it.

Google has associated themselves with several other technology companies in an effort to achieve full home automation including: Honeywell, Insignia, Wemo, and IFTTT. With these partnerships they aim to integrate essentially your entire house through the Google Home!

A big advantage of this tech for families will be involving children’s homework. Often when children are completing homework, they will have questions! The Google Home makes answering these questions much quicker and seamless. A question about the make up of an organic compound for example? All your child need do is ask the Home device. “Ok Google, whats the formula for Formaldehyde?” and Home will promptly respond accordingly with CH2O. There is little limitation to the type of question that you can ask! This has the potential to take stress off of parents every day where children would normally be asking you these questions!

Check out the video to see it in action:

Evident from the video, Google home can be used for any basic actions such as turning on the lights when you walk in the house/room, playing music and of course Googling anything that you can think of. But those are things we have seen before through the use of a mobile device. Where it gets even more interesting, is now with Google home, you can even connect the device to your TV, thermostat, and other compatible devices on a growing list of partners which will be activated by your voice commands.

Google Home can also sync your device to your Google account, which will allow access to your contacts, schedule, reminders, and information such as your work and home address. Instead of having to pull out your device to check these things, all you need to do is speak to the device as if it were a person! “Ok Google, how long will it take me to work?” and it will tell you! The device is even capable of accessing applications such as Uber, which will request a ride for you should you choose to. The benefit to using these commands is the significant increase in efficiency of basic tasks!

Google Home is a piece of technology that we can see slowly creeping it’s way into, and becoming a standard in, the every day home. Making every day tasks effortless is something we would sure appreciate!