What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR), a capability that has been around for decades, has shifted from what was once seen as a gimmick to a tool with tremendous potential. The layering of information over 3D space produces a new experience of the world, sometimes referred to as “blended reality,” and is fueling the broader migration of computing from the desktop to the mobile device, bringing with it new expectations regarding access to information and new opportunities for learning. While the most prevalent uses of augmented reality so far have been in the consumer sector (for marketing, social engagement, amusement, or location-based information), new uses seem to emerge almost daily, as tools for creating new applications become even easier to use. A key characteristic of augmented reality is its ability to respond to user input, which confers significant potential for learning and assessment; with it, learners 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 learner’s personal space at a scale and in a form easy to understand and work with.

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

  • AR has been on the radar for the last few years but I don't think any museum has done it extremely well, most likely due to cost. Is this the year that AR becomes more affordable and more wide spread among museums? The potential is huge to add a layer of educational content, collections data, user generated content over your real-time view. - ryand ryand Feb 24, 2016
  • I'm reluctant to endorse this technology in its current form. I think that using this with smartphones or tablets is a clumsy user experience and one that needs a change to see wide adoption. This could tie in really well to wearables in the future (something akin to Google Glass), until then, I see this technology as little more than a gimmick. - kjaebker kjaebker Feb 29, 2016
  • I have high hopes for both Magic Leap and Microsoft's Hololens (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu0gM0_vxIM), but not for a year or so. I suppose it depends upon the function of the Horizon Report. I'm trying to convince Microsoft that a museum is the perfect application for Hololens and they need to do a pilot project with us. They're not taking the idea just yet...- dallen dallen Feb 29, 2016

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

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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • For those that want to use their devices during their visit the potential is huge. Full collections data could be displayed around an object, user generated content, educational videos that augment the visit or an experience that places the object/display into context for the user. - ryand ryand Feb 24, 2016
  • Adding layers of data on top of the real world objects and by extension story telling. I think for this to really take off there needs to be a story for the user to want to use it. - kjaebker kjaebker Feb 29, 2016
  • Period rooms could come a long way toward showing the use of such spaces by recording actors in period costumes and making their actions and interactions available through AR- dallen dallen Feb 29, 2016

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

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