ChalkTalk – using 5G and AR to enhance the learning experience

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Kevin King

The first in a series profiling the startups and universities developing 5G use cases at Verizon’s 5G incubator at Alley in New York City

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People tend to learn faster and better when they can experience what it is they’re learning about versus reading about it or listening to a lecture. That’s the theory behind immersive education. Using emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR), educators can create interactive, engaging learning environments that replicate a physical classroom and bring objects and subject material to life. Those immersive learning experiences can become even more robust and effective when they’re powered by 5G technology.
Dr. Ken Perlin and his students at NYU’s Future Reality Lab are using Verizon’s pre-commercial 5G technology at Alley, a co-working space and site of Verizon’s 5G incubator in New York City, to develop ChalkTalk, an open source AR learning tool that renders multimedia objects in 3D. Using AR on mobile devices can be an effective learning tool for interacting with content – the challenge is being able to update and respond to that content in real time as the instructor makes his or her point.
“We’ve been able to test and experiment with the 5G technology,” said Dr. Perlin. “We’re looking at simple use cases now, but will be looking at more involved, more interesting applications as time goes on.”
5G technology has the potential to provide the high speed and low latency – or lag – required to facilitate interactive, real-time educational content in a mobile environment, allowing students and instructor to share and respond to that content as if they were in the same location when, in fact, they could be miles apart. With 5G and AR, the classroom of the future doesn’t have to be a physical classroom at all. And the “hands-on” experience of that virtual classroom can improve the learning process.
“What’s really exciting is the research about what’s coming in wearables requiring low-latency connections,” Dr. Perlin says. “We’re looking at smaller form factors, lower weight, and lower power that enable shared AR applications we couldn’t have without 5G.”
Verizon’s 5G incubator at Alley is giving NYU and other innovators access to pre-commercial 5G technology to develop and refine their 5G use cases. 
Next week, learn how researchers at Columbia University are using 5G and virtual reality (VR) to take immersive experiences into the physical therapist’s office to enable virtual physical rehabilitation.

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