My seven-year-old does not consider geography as one of his strengths, not with him getting confused often with whether Delhi is in India or the other way round. And teaching kids these things is only getting tougher these days with schools following very different schedules to what we were used to in school. But can technology help them imbibe this knowledge faster? Well, it certainly seems so.
Shifu Orboot is an AR enabled globe that helps children learn their way around our world in an easier, more engaging manner. The Shift Orboot globe does not make much sense on its own and is more like a cartoon version of what we are all used to. But look at it through the Orboot app and this globe suddenly starts coming to life. The Orboot app by PlayShifu is available on both iOS and Android stores.
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With the iPad thrown into the picture, my son’s interest was suddenly piqued. The globe itself was something he didn’t want to waste much time on. Using the app, the child is supposed to scan — more like focus on — the stars that mark different parts of the continents.
On the app, he has the option to choose what he wants to see — there are many layers to the globe. So if he selects animals, he will be able to see the whales in the ocean, the giraffes in Africa and so on. Tap on the animal and a 3D image pops up in AR over the globe and he can walk around it with tablet, hear more about the animal and read too if needed. There are more layers for cuisine, culture, monuments and so on where the experience is similar, but the knowledge gained is varied.
The AR part of the globe has enough to hold the attention of my son for at least 15 minutes every time he got to play with it, and that is quite an achievement in itself.
But there is more to this app. There are games and quizzes which he found to be more interesting. The quizzes were more engaging for the seven-year-old after the initial fascination with the AR elements wore off. There is also a master section he liked.
Overall, the Shifu Orboot comes across as a good learning tool that takes advantage of the augmented reality to help children learn about the world around them. I hope the app will keep adding new elements and more layers, or it will be difficult to get the children interested after a while. What is loaded in the app cannot keep them engaged for more than a few days at the moment.
Priced at Rs 1,999, the Shifu Orboot is not an expensive gift for children, especially since the app itself is free to download and use.