Screen time may have parents and experts fearing for their kids, but Within’s Wonderscope app is here to help bring learning to kids’ devices.
The iOS app uses augmented reality (AR) to transform kids’ surroundings into interactive storytelling. Wonderscope encourages kids to read stories out loud to engage with the characters instead of watching the story unfold for them.
“[Within decided] to build stories that involve the kids that play our app as an active participant. The stories can’t progress without them,” Samantha Storr, Within’s Executive Producer, Original Content, told Parentology. “Kids need to connect with the characters, read aloud, move, and look through the phone back into their real-world environment.”
Wonderscope currently has a lineup of four stories. “A Brief History of Amazing Stunts by Astonishing People” invites kids to learn about 3 record-breaking stunts and the people behind them, including the first person to tightrope walk across Niagra Falls.
In “Wonder’s Land Ringmaster Wanted,” kids follow Wonder, the Ringmaster of Wonder’s Land, on a tour of the imaginative world he lives in. “Little Red the Inventor” provides a modern take on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. Kids join forces with Red as they invent solutions to stop the Big Bad Wolf.
Wonderscope’s latest launch, “Clio’s Cosmic Quest” introduces Clio, a particle of stardust. Kids explore the solar system by Clio’s side to help Clio achieve her goal to form a star. (Check out the video below.)
Wonderscope is redefining the way parents think of kid’s interactions with their devices and screen time. Rather than passively watching or playing a game, the app encourages kids to actively engage with their surroundings. It functions similarly to a camera, where kids hold up their devices to take in their environment. AR technology places a story’s 3D characters into their surroundings.
Lines come up at the bottom of the screen and are highlighted as they are read aloud. The characters prompts kids to move around and participate in the storytelling, whether it be finding an object or solving a problem.
Jonny Ahdout, Within’s Director of Development, spoke about his seven-year-old nieces’ experience playing Little Red’s story. “They move around, are present, and will notice when I walk by behind the characters, and call out to me. That’s a huge difference from what I’m normally used to when they’re in front of a screen. I’m normally calling out to them and it’s in one ear and out the other. This time they’re calling out to me, telling me how cool it is that Little Red is standing right by my feet.”
Wonderscope’s use of AR brings many perks to the screen. Back in April, Wonderscope partnered with LA Public Libraries and LA’s BEST to bring the AR learning to 500 kids. They were able to use the app on iPads provided by Apple and given reading comprehension that tied into Wonderscope’s stories. The results surpassed expectations — kids became more interested in reading and the technology behind it, even suggesting new stories for Within to tell.
The initiative is the first of hopefully many to make the technology more accessible.
Wonderscope is just beginning its venture into AR-focused learning. As Ahdout expressed, “AR is a brand new medium with the potential to incorporate all of this and make it so much more personal and direct. The possibilities are limitless and we’re so excited to see where it all evolves.”
Wonderscope App Sources
Jonny Ahdout, Within’s Director of Development
Samantha Storr, Within’s Executive Producer, Original Content