Augmented Reality

Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years

Augmented reality enhances the information we can perceive with our senses. Its first applications appeared in the late 1960s and 1970s, and by the 1990s, augmented reality was being put to use by a number of major companies for visualization, training, and other purposes. Now, the technologies that make augmented reality possible are powerful and compact enough to deliver augmented experiences to personal computers and mobile devices. A key characteristic of augmented reality is its ability to respond to user input. This interactivity confers significant potential for learning and assessment; with it, students can construct new understanding based on interactions with virtual objects that bring underlying data to life. Dynamic processes, extensive datasets, and objects too large or too small to be manipulated can be brought into a student’s personal space at a scale and in a form easy to understand and work with.

Augmented reality also appeared on the mid-term horizon last year, and early applications and conceptual projects continue to give way to more polished tools. Areas still ripe for development include augmented reality gaming and the use of AR in publishing, indicating that the full potential of this technology is as yet untapped. Despite the tremendous interest in augmented reality — among the advisory board, it was the top-voted topic this year — the current lack of standards for development is keeping it in the mid-term horizon for another year.

Relevance for Teaching, Learning & Creative Inquiry

  • Augmented reality has strong potential to provide powerful, contextual, in situ learning experiences and serendipitous exploration and discovery.
  • Augmented reality opens the door to visual and highly interactive forms of learning, allowing the overlay of data onto the real world as easily as it simulates dynamic processes.
  • Games that are based in the real world and augmented with networked data can give educators powerful new ways to show relationships and connections.

Augmented Reality in Practice

  • Acrossair’s public transit apps use augmented reality to locate public transportation near the user; Nearest Wiki and Nearest Places offer information useful to tourists and travelers: http://www.acrossair.com/default.htm
  • The Powerhouse Museum has developed an augmented reality application that allows visitors to use their mobile phones to see Sydney, Australia as it appeared one hundred years ago: http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/layar/

For Further Reading

Blended Reality: Superstructing Reality, Superstructing Selves
http://www.iftf.org/node/2598
(Kathi Vian, Institute for the Future, 4 March 2009.) This in-depth report looks at the impact of augmented reality as it is increasingly integrated into technology and society.

Collaborative Augmented Reality in Schools
http://ltee.org/uploads/cscl2009/paper236.pdf
(Lyn Pemberton, Marcus Winter, University of Brighton, 2009.) This research paper discusses the use of augmented reality for collaboration and learning opportunities.

How Augmented Reality Apps Can Catch On
http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/10/two-ways-augmented-reality-app.html
(Mac Slocum, O’Reilly Radar, 13 October 2010.) This article discusses standards for development of AR applications.