What is Augmented Reality?

The term augmented reality (AR) was first coined in 1990 by former Boeing researcher Tom Caudell, who used it to describe ways in which digital information could be overlaid in real time with the visual information we are used to seeing in the real world. (Heads-up displays in aircraft were an early outgrowth of the technology.) While the capability to deliver that sort of augmented reality experience has been around for decades, it has up to recently always required a very expensive customized system, or special equipment. Advances in mobile devices as well as in the different technologies that combine the real world with virtual information have led to augmented reality applications that are as near to hand as any other application on a laptop or a smart phone.

Emerging augmented reality tools to date have begun to overlay marketing, amusement, or location-based information via heads-up displays or real-time video, and new applications continue to appear as the technology becomes more popular. As they have, augmented reality is now poised to enter the mainstream in the consumer sector. Learning applications, such as the ability to overlay information over a video image of an historical site, or an artifact in a museum are not far behind.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Augmented reality is one of those developing technologies that seems like such a natural fit for teaching, training, and learning that I'm wondering why we're not all diving into helping develop and promote it! The examples I saw in the 2010 Horizon report and through a TED conference presentation sent me racing off to find examples online, and I was absolutely stunned by what it offers in settings as diverse as automobile repair (military personal using it to fix cars) and learning for the disabled (a group using it for those with physical disabilities. An Italian online video showing how someone walking through historical areas of Rome and being able to glean knowledge about what they were seeing suggests this could be as important for just-in-time learning as for formal academic or workplace learning and peformance efforts. Lots of potential here.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2010 In addition, this is a way to tie archival materials to physical places to give more meaning to both the place/item and the archival material. Libraries might be able to overlay electronic only materials in the physical location where they would exist if they were on paper. - laurenpressley laurenpressley Oct 5, 2010 Paul, don't underestimate privacy fears - AR spooks many people. - bryan bryan Oct 14, 2010
  • I think this area will take off with mobility for any discipline that has field trips of any sort, engineering, natural sciences,social sciences and humanities. The development of mobile AR apps for specific disciplines need to be 'out there' to provide some use cases of what is possible. It also needs an easy way to develop mobile apps at one time for multiple OS's (iphone/ipad. android, etc) - i.e. porting. You could easily see an archeology project like this ( http://www.apple.com/ipad/pompeii/ )with augmented reality layers on google maps/earth. - Nick Nick Oct 10, 2010
  • Historical overlays will grow. iTacitus proved this, with older docs visible on top of present sites. - bryan bryan Oct 14, 2010
  • The build costs for AR are coming down but still somewhat on the high side. I saw some excellent work last year that was done by instructional technologists and the engineering school at Purdue. However, creating apps that are more than just a curiosity is probably 2-3 years out. Given the costs, I would suspect that we should be watching engineering and medical schools as they are the ones that will have the resources to create mature implementations. They are also the ones that are most in need of collaboration using this technology. - phil.ice phil.ice Oct 17, 2010
  • When the world becomes "a writable surface" (I still get a tingle from that phrase), notions of learning, agency, and "the world" itself will change. We're already seeing crude beginnings. As the tools and opportunities become easier and more numerous, the line between physical reality and our symbolic expressions of that reality will begin to blur in very interesting and potentially useful (and distracting) ways. - gardnercampbell gardnercampbell Oct 18, 2010

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Augmented reality is inextricably linked to location-based services. You can have location-based services that do not use augmented reality but all the interesting augmented reality services I know of require location-based service as a substrate. - amichaelberman amichaelberman Oct 3, 2010
  • The potential for applying it to almost any hands-on learning experience, whether it be in a simulation lab setting on a college campus or a training room in a hospital, a manufacturer's plant, or any other setting where learners are engaged in physical actions, offers great potential for experiential learners--in other words, most of us.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2010
  • When considered in convergence with other technologies, such as gesture-based computing, there are some bigger implications for how we might be moving towards utilizing augmented-reality. The advancements demonstrated through SixthSense show how users can achieve a significant level of interaction between their physical environment and personal digital space. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 5, 2010
  • Once the real time web meets AR, interesting things will start to happen with data overlaid on the camera view with live data. - KeeneH KeeneH Oct 17, 2010

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • It opens up an entirely new set of possibilities for onsite and online learning. I believe this is going to quickly become one of the great advances in applying technology to learning if costs don't hinder its use.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2010
  • This is a type of technology that blends into the background once you're used to using it. In the beginning, it's novel and a glimpse of the future. But once you know it is an option, you start to wonder why you don't have access to it more easily and with different types of information. - laurenpressley laurenpressley Oct 5, 2010 Agreed; it's so intuitive and helpful that it's frustrating when it's not available. - ninmah ninmah Oct 14, 2010
  • Green aspects, once campuses realize they can do something digitally through AR, rather than physically: signage, posters, plaques, etc. - bryan bryan Oct 14, 2010

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

http://mashable.com/2009/12/05/augmented-reality-iphone/ - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2010
http://mashable.com/2009/12/05/augmented-reality-iphone/ - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2010
http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/mlearning/augmented-reality-in-the-library/ - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2010
http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/technology/augmented-reality-does-it-have-a-placefuture-in-education-edtech/ - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 5, 2010
http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/dli/projects/wolfwalk/ - laurenpressley laurenpressley Oct 5, 2010
http://www.pranavmistry.com/projects/sixthsense/ - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 5, 2010