Augmented reality (AR) may let you ”see” things that aren’t really there, but don’t expect any kid to get excited about the patterns they see on the shirt just by looking at it. But show a kid something gross and maybe a bit icky (but not scary) that appears as if by magic and you’ve got a captive audience that won’t even mind learning something. Which may not be the whole idea behind the augmented reality T-shirt, the Virtuali-Tee, but it sure lives up to it.
The Virtuali-Tee seems like a typical T-shirt in that it gets worn and can be washed when dirty. But the real fun of having it is partly because of what’s drawn on it, and partly because that drawing reacts to a special augmented reality app (iOS/Android) while you’re wearing it (avoid wrinkles if you can!). The app activates all kinds of intriguing views of the human body — it’s like an X-ray machine suddenly got turned on, with the ability of the viewer to see 360 degrees while diving into the bloodstream and getting up close and person with the small intestine and the lungs. Or think of it as virtually dissecting the organs and taking a really, really close look (hence the “icky” part). But it’s not dead, flat views like looking at a book, but active, action oriented views where the human body is active and on the go.
So the app just requires being aimed at the T-shirt so that it can interlink with what’s there and track it from that point on — being simple to get things going ensures that children can get it to work. Aiming the phone (camera) and app at someone is cool, but of course this can be used in “selfie” mode too. So if you’re wearing the T, you’re not left out.
In that same vein of not being left out, there’s a virtual “guide” (called Hans Glover because it’s a pointed gloved hand) built into the app that is more than happy to take the lead by verbalizing what you are looking at; there being hotspots and buttons to click on, depending on the part of the body you’re currently viewing. Because learning about anatomy and the human body doesn’t have to be boring. So now it’s not. And should you have a VR headset, go ahead because the app/T-shirt works with it just fine.
The Virtuali-Tee comes in an assortment of sizes ranging from child through adult, and in one color, that being blue. The retail price is $29.95.