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Bamzooki: Augmented Reality Educational App

Education is a very essential part of learning the skills necessary to survive in and connect to the world. It is even more important for children to understand their capabilities as a human. This is why its important for educational systems to adapt to a ever-changing world, influenced by technology and culture. If not, we run the risk of collapsing of civilization. We run the risk of returning back to the Stone Ages.

One such application that has contributed to education is Bamzooki. Bamzooki is a downloadable toolkit for young people to build their own autonomous living creatures. These creatures are known as zooks. These zooks then go on to compete against other zooks. Their skills are tested in various virtual obstacle courses and head-to-head battle arenas.

What brings the educational aspect to this concept, is it requires the young zook designer to pay attention to how their digital creature is crafted. Kids have free will in how they design the zooks. But if the zook is too tall it could tilt over in competition or if the zook is too flat, it may not be able to climb up a ramp. Speed, agility, weight, and other aspects of the zook, determine it’s effectiveness in battle arenas.  Truly putting the young brain to work, to determine what configuration of legs or shape of the body is best to navigate through tumbling boulders or tall pillars.

The Bamzooki toolkit was built by Gameware Development (which is part of Gameware Europe), who has also produces a span of technologies for mobile computers and PCs. Zooks are based off the Braitenberg architecture. The most efficacious and attractive zook goes on to stare in the Children British Broadcasting Corporation(CBBC) television show Bamzooki. The TV series first aired in March 2004 and lasted until 2006. But then returned back to the network in November 2009, as Bamzooki: Street Rules. Soon after, it went off air again.

The show utilized mixed reality or augmented reality techniques to bring to life the zook creatures, in digitally created battle courses. Teams consisted of four young minds, that would come prepared with their uniquely named zooks, directing them for the win. The original series was hosted by Jake Humphrey, and the latter series was hosted by Gemma Hunt and Barney Harwood.

The courses was carefully designed. One course objective was to save Mimi from being flipped out of the scene. The assigned zook would have to climb up different levels of ramp and dodge tumbling boulders. Another course objective was for the zook to maneuver a ball into a goal that a competing zook was guarding. With these sorts of goals to achieve, it was important for the young minds to create the most efficient autonomous digital creature. Other than the competitive part, it is a fun way for kids and adults to show off their creatures online.

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