In the White River branch of the Johnson County Library, animated spiders, penguins and cartoon characters appeared.

Those characters, created by Johnson County teenagers with a mind for gaming, appeared on participants’ cell phone cameras when they answered trivia questions correctly or incorrectly on the Metaverse mobile application. In one gamer’s creation, the animation is dependent on answering a question about if the video game Fortnite is better than Minecraft. Choosing Fortnite as the superior game prompts a Fortnite character to pop up on the screen with the word “correct,” while selecting Minecraft prompts another Fortnite character to appear on screen, this time with the phrase: “Get a Life.”

In a scavenger hunt game created for the Johnson County public library, children are asked to find books using their phone camera in the Metaverse app. Once they find the book in the room, they enter the code of the book into the app to proceed to the next book in the hunt. Participants can also ask for hints within the game to find the books location.

Metaverse is the Johnson County Public Library’s first experiment with augmented reality, as eight students tried their hand at it earlier this summer. Augmented reality first was in vogue with Pokémon Go, when gamers pointed their phones at different locations to find animated Pokémon displayed on their screens. With Metaverse, the library system adds to its technological arsenal, as it has already provided virtual reality headsets for a year, librarian Amy Dalton said.

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“Like Pokémon Go you can see it through the camera what it looks like in your environment,” Dalton said of augmented reality. “You have to find out how to link all the screens and images together so the game is cohesive, or you can have it so a giant spider pops up.”

While scavenger hunts and trivia are the most obvious uses of augmented reality, the real-world applications of the technology can extend to museums and historical places, where users can point their camera at a painting or historical building and see an image of what the painting looked like before it was restored or get information on the building’s significance, Dalton said.

Dalton will likely pursue getting more students to use augmented reality at next year’s Explore Summer program, but in the meantime she has more technology for children to discover. One example is a way to combine phones with handmade projectors to create holograms, she said.

The holograms work by overlaying multiple videos on a PowerPoint presentation, arranged in such a way that when using a projector attached to the phone, it creates that hologram. Dalton successfully created one using a pyramid shaped projector made of an old sandwich container to project a jellyfish. In the winter, children will also be able to create their own hologram PowerPoints aided by handmade projectors, she said.

With virtual reality, library patrons can use headsets to view the inside of a human body, visit outer space, play video games or draw by moving their arms, Dalton said.

The various technology at the library can not only help children be more engaged in a creative way, but can also teach them logic and problem-solving skills, she said.

“I think it’s not just the new technology part that interests a lot of kids, most of it has basic skills too,” Dalton said. “Yeah, you’re making an augmented reality game but you’re also looking at a sequence of cause and effect. You’re making a hologram but it’s also a basic light projection that’s been around forever; it’s how mediums used to scare people with ghosts. We’re using what we have to do it even better. We teach a lot of things under the guise of technology, a lot of basic skills, reasoning and science.”


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