Empowering the Present Moment
Written by Richard Nguyen, Business Intern at SpellBound
1. make (something) greater by adding to it; increase.
In a way, augmented reality technology is a stepping stone towards utopia. On its journey towards advancing civilization, the human race has been easily distracted with war, hunger, discrimination, and evil. We struggle to keep focus on what’s most important, which is how we can help the next person. Augmented technology, by definition, does just that. Instead of thinking how the experience can be controlled, augmented reality allows the user to integrate what they see into their world.
Previously, technologies required the user to be closed off and separated from the rest of the world. For example, a child would be locked away in his or her own room for hours, diving deep into a video game and coming out only to eat. Take an adult, as another case study, who comes home and watches television. There is little to no interactivity with others. There is no sense of community or presence. Building a community around actively used technology, especially in the healthcare setting, is difficult simply due to the circumstances that patients are in. Common interests and attitudes are not necessarily shared between the child and their caretaker. A disconnect is formed and the child feels alienated throughout their stay. Creating presence, a full immersive experience, diverts attention away from the pain and trauma that is almost guaranteed to occur.
Augmented reality technology seems to have figured it out. There is a psychological binding behind what appears on screen. Before my current position as a business development intern, I had absolutely no idea what SpellBound meant for children in the hospital. I thought the cards and books were gimmicky; a ploy to ride the wave of Pokémon Go’s success and implement it in a niche market.
In fact, I learned it is quite the contrary. Imagine, just for a moment, that you are a child in a hospital. You grasp onto your mother’s shoulders as she rushes you into the emergency room. There are strangers in masks everywhere. You lie on your back and there is a brief explanation of what’s going to be done to you. You look to your left and there sits a child life specialist with a Castle Lionheart card in her hand. She turns on an iPad, just like the one you play with at home. The camera points to the card and suddenly there appears a new world in 3D.
Visualizing this experience, I was curious about the particular qualities that made augmented reality connect with the user. The effect that SpellBound has on kids using it is by no mistake. A study done by B.Guerrero and B. Rey suggests that augmented reality technology has a few key elements that create presence within the user.
- The overall experience of an AR/VR application does not necessarily get better with increased graphical power. Instead, the underlying content and storyline that is being communicated works much easier to break through to the user.
- An emotional-eliciting environment conveys a higher sense of presence. A higher sense of presence means that the individual will benefit and pull more from the encounter and feel a connection with the environment.
- User-centered interactivity of an AR/VR application promotes a feeling of control over the environment, an aspect that the patient may completely lose when entering a room with a doctor.
This form of communication is central to SpellBound and its products. The child is shown a card and a familiar animal pops up; a lion. The hospital room doesn’t seem so bad when you have the king of the jungle in your hands.