Recently I caught wind of an augmented reality company based in China called Neobear. What struck me about their AR products was that they were purely educational and aimed squarely at younger learners. This week I was fortunate enough to get my hands on three items from the NeoBear range – the AR Globe, The AR Pop-up Zoo flashcards and the NeoBear’s World Tour Pop-up AR Paintings book set. Each product comes with access to a free app (iOS or Android) which brings the content to life in augmented reality.
All three have impressed me a great deal and I already have plans to integrate them into our EYFS and KS1 classrooms over the next few weeks. Of course my own little playtesters (aka my two young daughters) have already been giving the NeoBear range a good go and definitely gave their seal of approval too. They really are some of the best AR learning products I’ve used and fantastic resources for younger students.
The Pop-up Zoo
There are more than 90 augmented reality flash cards in this set which makes it positively huge. The cards are made from thick, robust card – perfect for small hands which may not be as careful with them as you might like! Each card shows an animal which then comes to life in AR when the card is scanned. The 3D models are well-detailed and animated and the name of the animal is spoken to the user. Though the cards do not offer additional factfiles or information (like the ZooKazam app) this does make the interface vert simple – another essential feature for use with early learners.
You can pull up a camera tool to capture images or videos directly within the app and the set even comes with a foldable device stand that allows you to prop up your tablet for use with the front facing camera (think a simple version of the Play Osmo stand.)
Young students could practice the names of the animals or identifying them from the silhouettes on the cards and then scan the cards to reveal them. Multiple cards can be scanned at once too so animals can be compared and contrasted.
NeoBear’s World Tour – Pop-up AR Paintings
This set of three augmented reality colouring books works in a similar way to other AR colouring apps like Quiver. The unique selling point here is the focus on geography and world culture. Each double-page spread in the books focuses on a different country and presents multiple elements to colour in as well as some facts about the location. These pages can then be scanned to see them come to life in AR.
It's great to see some new AR colouring with a dedicated educational focus and across the set of three books there is a wide range of cultural locations covered from Egypt and Greece to Brazil and India and many more. A nice activity would be to have students cross-reference the colourings with books/websites to ensure the colours they choose are accurate.
The AR Globe
I had not looked at any media for the NeoBear’s AR Globe before unboxing it so I was unsure what to expect. Suffice to say it blew me away and is without a doubt one of the finest examples of AR for education I have seen yet. Even my wife was really taken by the globe (which caught my attention as she gets shown a LOT of gadgets and gizmos by me and is usually somewhat apathetic!)
The globe looks quite simple, with only the continents named and a few cartoon animals dotted across relevant countries. This simplicity of the design belies the wealth of AR detail that it’s accompanying app has to offer in AR though. Users can bring up information about animals, landmarks, weather, famous people, food and more across the augmented globe.
You can even explore the Earth’s core or turn the globe into the Sun and watch the planets orbit around it!
This seriously is something I would recommend to any early years or Key Stage One educator as it would make a hugely engaging, interactive and useful addition to any classroom.
These are not the only AR products from NeoBear and I am now eager to get hold of some of their other offerings to try out. To find out more about the NeoBear range, visit their official site (in English) here.