MagiPlay: An Augmented Reality Serious Game Allowing Children to Program Intelligent Environments

15 Stefanidi, E., Arampatzis, D., Leonidis, A., Korozi, M., Antona, M. & Papagiannakis, G. MagiPlay: An Augmented Reality Serious Game Allowing Children to Program Intelligent Environments. In Transactions on Computational Science. Springer, 2020. 2020 A basic understanding of problem-solving and computational thinking is undoubtedly a benefit for all ages. At the same time, the proliferation of Intelligent Environments has raised the need for configuring their behaviors to address their users’ needs. This configuration can take the form of programming, and coupled with advances in Augmented Reality and Conversational Agents, can enable users to take control of their intelligent surroundings in an efficient and natural manner. Focusing on children, who can greatly benefit by being immersed in programming from an early age, this paper presents an authoring framework in the form of an Augmented Reality serious game, named MagiPlay, allowing children to manipulate and program their Intelligent Environment. This is achieved through a handheld device, which children can use to capture smart objects via its camera and subsequently create rules dictating their behavior. An intuitive user interface permits players to combine LEGO-like 3D bricks as a part of the rule-based creation process, aiming to make the experience more natural. Additionally, children can communicate with the system via natural language through a Conversational Agent, in order to configure the rules by talking with a human-like agent, while the agent also serves as a guide/helper for the player, providing context-sensitive tips for every part of the rule creation process. Finally, MagiPlay enables networked collaboration, to allow parental and teacher guidance and support. The main objective of this research work is to provide young learners with a fun and engaging way to program their intelligent surroundings. This paper describes the game logic of MagiPlay, its implementation details, and discusses the results of a statistically significant evaluation conducted with end-users, i.e. a group of children of seven to twelve years old.

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