An Innovative Idea:  Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Come Together for a Guided Tour with ThingLink!

by Deb Norton

If you are an innovator such as myself, you might like to try new apps and experiment with virtual reality, such as ThingLink 360°/ VR and also with augmented reality such as a 3D moving and talking avatar.  The combination of virtual reality and augmented reality in one lesson makes for a really impressive and intriguing experience.

To see for yourself, let’s take a look at the 360° ThingLink image.

For this guided tour of the Grand Canyon, I used several applications.


First, I downloaded the 360° image from Flickr and uploaded it into the Teleport 360 Editor app on my iPad.  I also could have used the website and the 360°/VR feature.  Since I had the iPad readily available, I went that route. These applications help to create a 3D virtual reality computer generated simulation that students can view on a tablet, computer or even through a VR viewer.


Next, I used an app called Gabsee to create a 3D avatar. I took a few practice videos with the avatar and found this augmented reality app to be very simple to use.  I was able to superimpose a computer-generated avatar into a real-world location and create a short video. The video simply downloaded to my camera roll. The really impressive thing about Gabsee is that it scans your face into the avatar to look like you!











Some of the videos I created with Gabsee were made with an image in the background and others were created with a clip from a YouTube video playing in the background. It was fun placing my avatar in different scenes and with various actions. I even had my avatar do the moonwalk in one of the videos. One thing to note is that a Gabsee video can only be 10 seconds long. This wasn’t too difficult for me and I also know that short videos will hold the attention of my students.


Using the combination of the Gabsee videos and the Teleport 360 Editor with the 360° image of the Grand Canyon only took about a half hour. Creating the Gabsee videos beforehand took the majority of my time. If time is limited, I would suggest creating just one or two Gabsee videos.  It was fun to try something different and innovative.



The videos didn’t always load vertically, so I uploaded them to YouTube and used Creator Studio to rotate the videos. I found that if I upload the video from Gabsee and my photos on my iPad directly into Thinglink, the entire video didn’t show up. So, to ensure that the entire video would show up in Thinglink, I uploaded the videos to my Google Drive and then got the embed code from each video to paste into Thinglink. If you do this, make sure the share settings are set to anyone with the link can view.


I highly recommend checking out this Thinglink VR tour to inspire and enlighten students’ knowledge of the Grand Canyon. Imagine all of the possibilities for placing a 3D augmented avatar into a virtual place to guide listeners through an adventure.  I can even imagine students creating their own virtual tours to a place that they have visited or researched.  What possibilities are you imagining for combining VR and AR into a ThingLink image?



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