BOISE — Students will soon be able to turn their real lives into a storybook while learning to write.
"Augmented reality is like bringing something into our world; virtual reality is bringing us into another world," said student in the GIMM program Lauren Matthews. "What this is doing is placing a child inside of their own story so they get to see this story kind of evolve in front of them and kind of play a part in it."
Students in the GIMM lab are developing an app that teaches children to write, with specialized art and progress tracking that helps children with developmental delays or on the autism spectrum.
"You track all the data. We'd like to be able to present it for teachers and occupational therapists in a dashboard," said student Casey Kawamura.
The app creates a profile for each student that teachers can monitor. It can even help predict if a child is likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome for how they hold the pencil.
"We can pinpoint those kinds of things so teachers can, when they're working with their student, they can sit down and know exactly what they're struggling with," said Casey.
Awareness of written materials and writing skills are kindergarten common core state standards. Across the state, schools are lacking occupational therapists, which is often how students receive handwriting help.
"One of the things we want to do is to increase the amount of occupational therapy, speech therapy and other kinds of therapy that the schools are offering right now," said director of the GIMM Lab Anthony Ellertson. "We realize that that's difficult sometimes with budgets."
More and more classrooms have tablets as part of their classroom materials, so this is a more cost-effective effort to increase occupational therapy for handwriting.
The program, once completed, will be available across tablets and phones so that students can access it at home.