Google’s Ingress and Location-Based Learning

Augmented Reality flashmobThis month Google’s Niantic Labs quietly released a location-based game called Ingress that plays with data on multiple levels. The game, currently in invite-only beta, invites players to join either the Enlightenment or the Resistance and move through the physical world hunting “Exotic Matter”, and coincidentally generating data and pictures for Google on the way. These XM hotspots often center on places of actual historical or cultural significance, encouraging players to venture out into these locations.

Ingress opens with the warning: “Saving the world is dangerous. If you do not want to assume this risk, now is the chance to close this app and go back to your normal life.”

The next generation of augmented reality might look like something out of a science fiction movie, complete with head-mounted displays or constant data overlays transforming what we know at any given time. But even the current generation heralds interesting possibilities for location-based learning beyond the classroom.

Tools already exist to build simple experiences in line with the model behind Ingress, including ARIS, a mobile game creation tool out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. ARIS allows for the construction of mission and exploration-based games with themes ranging from botany to history. [edited to fix truncated sentence--@JBJ]

Have you explored Ingress or another location-based game? What do you think about the possibilities of using these technologies for learning?

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