Sept. 19, 2019
Learning with augmented reality
Seneca grad developing curriculum with professor
The Murdoch Mysteries Escape Game at Casa Loma in Toronto has amped up one of its in-game puzzles with a new reality — one that’s augmented and created by a Seneca graduate.
As a result of a cross-disciplinary project at Seneca, Fredrik Pedram recently created, tested and implemented an augmented reality puzzle that uses a tablet retrofitted to look like an invention of Murdoch. Players of the escape room need to solve this puzzle to successfully escape from Casa Loma.
Pedram, who has since graduated from the Interactive Media Design (INM) diploma program, spent 700 hours over four months working on injecting the augmented reality technology into the popular Murdoch game.
“At the time, I was working with Unity, the program platform for gaming,” said Pedram, who has 20 years of programming experience. “From there, I taught myself the fundamentals of augmented reality.”
The project came together when the School of Electronics & Mechanical Engineering Technology (SEMET) and INM partnered with Secret City Adventures to create an augmented reality component for the Murdoch Mysteries escape room.
Peter Moscone, a SEMET professor and longtime fan of augmented reality, welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with open arms.
“While virtual reality takes you out of your environment, blanking out real world and putting you in a different world, augmented reality places assets in your environment so you can learn how to interact with real things,” Moscone explained.
“We are in the very early stages of seeing augmented reality in everyday life, but industry is already using this technology to streamline their research and training. We are excited to find more partnerships to further our own research in the augmented reality space.”
After working on the Murdoch project, Pedram was commissioned to create an augmented reality implementation for a grand mural for Arts Etobicoke. That project, facilitated through Seneca 360, allows users to download an app on their phone and experience interactive content on the mural.
In addition, he was commissioned by SEMET to create a holographic augmented reality project in the mechatronics lab at the Centre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship. By wearing a holographic headset, users can learn how to use the equipment by tapping on a hologram that only they can see and hear.
Pedram is currently working on another puzzle for Casa Loma. He’s also developing, alongside Moscone, an augmented reality course curriculum for upper-semester students at Seneca.
“Not many people have tried augmented reality and what we are doing is a step forward toward where industries want to go — to utilize this technology in a nimble way and streamline how they teach and train employees,” Moscone said. “It’s so new, we are discovering as we go. There’s no playbook. But Seneca is definitely at the forefront of it.”