To mark National Farm Safety Awareness week, That’s Farming spoke Anna Carmody - the founder of the Little Red Design Studio –about her new educational technology start-up and book – Hazard Farm.
It is quite a new innovation and Anna explains augmented reality and how early learners can interact and learn from the technology.
“It’s to help children learn important messages, such as farm safety” explained Anna, who said that the idea stemmed from her own experiences in agriculture.
Anna is from Tullamore, Co. Offaly and her mother Catherine hails from Knock, Co. Mayo, where Anna and her family would have visited her grandparent’s farm nearly every weekend.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck, and her grandfather Toby was left injured in a farm accident with a PTO shaft.
“We would have been told all about the accident when we were younger, it was a very traumatic experience for the family, thank God he survived,” explained Anna.
“Another time I was coming home to Tullamore from the farm and my mother told me about an accident with a young child; I had been going in the tractor and jumping over bales too, that really hit me hard” said Anna.
“What struck me was that I would go to Easons or different bookshops and look at books such as ‘The Happy Cow’ or ‘The Friendly Sheep’ and all the farms were colourful happy places.
“As nice as they are and fun to play in, they are also dangerous places.”
Being a teacher, Anna is already immersed in teaching English lessons to students including early learners.
She has recognised the need for a more interactive way to put across a message to young children as they are a vulnerable group and children continue to die in farm accidents to this day.
Her degree, however, is in Product Design that she studied while at college in the National College of Art and Design.
After college, she completed a TEFL course and travelled to Vietnam to teach early learners for five months.
It was in Vietnam that Anna felt that education was where she could make a difference, so when her creative talents paired with her teaching skills, the result was the Little Red Design Studio.
Anna had started creating her farm safety children’s book in the final year of college and when she returned from Vietnam, she decided that it was time to try and manufacture the product.
“I said that I’m going to keep going with this and see where it brings me,” said Anna. Her final year project also included a play-mat.
It’s been a continuing project for Anna, who has hosted meetings with various farming organisations and the Health and Safety Authority for research purposes.
Anna was determined to produce a product that would make a difference to the area of farm safety. “It’s a really big problem and it just doesn’t get enough time in the limelight”.
Every aspect of Anna’s book was designed by her own hand, including; the illustrations, the information and design.
The book also comes with an app that people can download for an interactive experience.
Anna was in the innovation arena at the National Ploughing Championships last year and she was carrying her book and play-mat, that would combine to create one product.
Anna was already considering her interaction idea when a couple of people who were present at the show asked her if she had investigated a new technology called augmented reality as there was funding available.
“People are very interested in apps,” said Anna who witnessed this first-hand at the championships.
“I had a video playing on a tablet in my hand,” she said, “and we had a lot of children and their parents saying that an app would be a good idea,” she said.
With this key thought in her head, she decided that the new technology was the way forward.
Anna always keeps up to date with the latest technologies; she set about extensively researching augmented reality and considered where this could be carried out.
It took a very short time to become a reality and three months later, the app was complete.
Augmented reality is a tricky concept to understand, so Anna gives an example; “It’s where you can see something that is virtual, through your computer screen and it is merged with reality”, she said.
“Basically, If you took a piece of paper, like a flyer and held the phone over it, the phone would recognise the picture on the paper and the images could start moving or information about the flyer could pop up on the page if you are looking at it through your phone,” she explained.
The augmented reality book - Hazard Farm, is quite futuristic in its concept and Anna is sure that kids will love it and equally, learn the importance of farm safety.
Anna’s book can also be read like an average 2D book without the app, which makes it accessible to everybody. It is available in libraries throughout the country and you can find all the information on her webpage.
For more information on the interactive book, click here.
Photo credit: Jeff Harvey
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