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Horizon Report – simple augmented reality

February 9, 2010

[This is part of a series on the Horizon Report, about technologies likely to impact teaching, learning, or creative inquiry.]

Augmented reality (AR) involves blending data-based displays with a live view of the real world. This concept has been around for years, but the technology behind it has become “simple.”That is, it’s advanced enough to be delivered on small devices – even hand-held ones – for everyday applications.We shared an example in an earlier post, “Stroll through a movie on Beacon Hill.” This technology should have a significant impact within two or three years.

Many of today’s smart phones have GPS capability. Armed with image recognition software and a digital compass, such a device can use software like Layar (video above) to “know” where a camera is pointing and superimpose relevant information on the screen.

Several “location-aware” applications are now available to help people find restaurants, movies, gas stations, and friends. These apps are expected to earn companies $2 million in 2010. Mechanics in some shops can now look at an engine through AR goggles and see the instructions needed to repair it.

Here are some possible applications in higher education:

  • Show historic or archaeological information about a place
  • Augment a game with data that show relationships and connections
  • Overlay an object to show how it would look in context
  • Augment a book, so items seem to pop up from the pages
  • Look at the night sky and see the names of objects

Further reading:

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