Monday, June 8, 2009

Sketchup X ARmedia = Amazing


I just came across an absolutely fascinating plugin for google sketchup. For anyone who hasn't use SketchUp, it is a free CAD program offered by google (teachers can download the top package for free through a google reseller). AR-Media is an Italian based company that specializes in Augmented Reality Media, and a free trial version of their sketchup plugin is available (although it limits usage to 30 seconds at a time). The licensed version is available for 29 pounds for educators.
Why is this amazing? The ARmedia plugin allows you to take the object created, or downloaded from google's 3d warehouse and view it beyond the computer, in the palm of your hand with a webcam. When I first saw the plugin in action I could not believe my eyes. But it only took me about an hour to get everything running smoothly, and it was well worth it.

Here is a video I made that walks through the process & application.

The process:
1. Download google sketchup - HERE
2. Download the AR media plugin guide (pdf file) - HERE
3. Download the AR media plugin for sketchup - HERE
4. Download the AR media marker & print out the marker (pdf file) - HERE
When installing the ARmedia plugin, make sure SketchUp can recognize the plugin by installing it in the plugin folder within SketchUp (these directions are quite easy to follow in the plugin guide).
Next, open Sketchup...create something, or download anything you can imagine from 3d warehouse (search google with this term).
Once the object or file is open within Sketchup, click the plugins tab on the top menu bar and choose ARmedia. The program will start running and it will prompt you to make sure a webcam is plugged in. Once the program begins, simply point the webcam at the ARmedia marker that was printed out (lay the marker flat on the table, taped down to a larger piece of cardboard for easy manipulation). If everything was installed correctly, you should suddenly see you SketchUp object on your computer screen (via the webcam) can be tilted, turned and spun around!
Applications: I haven't had time to digest this application yet, but for now I can imagine history teachers exploring google's 3d warehouse to find places, buildings, monuments and historical sites that could be used within the context of a lecture or activity. Viewing these places in three dimensions brings them to life for students. When using this program in conjunction with google maps, students can get a true sense where these places we often speak of truly exist.
I feel there are limitless applications for a geometry class. Students often have a hard time visualizing a three dimensional object in two dimension on the board or on a worksheet. Using the ARmedia plugin will eliminate this confusion and allow the students to truly grasp geometry concepts.
Please email me with any ways you have found to use SketchUp and the ARmedia plugin.

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