HUMlab friends at the VR lab at Umeå University/HPC2N/the Umevatoriet have developed an application that is very interesting and that seems to have “viral” qualities. It is called Phun and it is a physical simulation of a different kind. From the project page:

Phun is an educational, entertaining and somewhat (!) addictive piece of software for designing and exploring 2D multi-physics simulations in a cartoony fashion. It is part of our long term mission to bring visual physics based simulation to the masses. The application is developed for Umevatoriet, Umeås new science center, where it will run on a large interactive display, but you can also download it and run it on your own pc.

There is something about this that just seems right – playfulness, dynamic interface, the aesthetic qualities, sensory/kinetic “feedback” etc. This youtube video has had 373.000+ views in 2,5 weeks. And apparently there is a great deal of content being created using Phun.

It reminds of me of old-type games – Lemmings for instance. In terms of learning and technology Phun really seems to have interesting possibilities. Many physics (educational) programs I have seen have been relatively static or very limited in terms of what you can do (textbook like). This software seems to promote creative use and exploration.

The development of Phun was carried out as a MSc project by Computing Science student Emil Ernerfeldt supervised by Kenneth Bodin, HPC2N/VRlab. More information here.

Hopefully we will able to a seminar or presentation or something in the lab in May together with Kenneth and/or Emil.