Technology Trends

Augmented Reality – VFX Breakdown from soryn on Vimeo.

Technology Trends – Augmented Reality

The concept of Augmented Reality seems space aged and futuristic; however, after further consideration it is clear that humans have been striving to augment reality from the beginning. When faced with a difficult task we find ways to overcome these difficulties by enhancing, or augmenting our abilities. Human beings have always tried to find ways to overcome our physical, or sensory short comings by increasing our natural ability to perceive the world around us. Through artificial means, we have enhanced our vision and hearing and increased our ability to experience and understand reality. Teachers have always tried to augment reality by utilizing techniques to enhance the learning experience through the use of everything from chalk writing tablets to overhead projects, to interactive Smart boards.

My English 9 class created their own augmented reality projects this year when they were asked to create an online Library of Imagination. This was a collection of a minimum of ten items from human history that represents the pinnacle of human imagination. They not only displayed and shared their items, but also had to post images, videos, and links to resources that augment the learners experience.

It is only recently; however, that computer technology has evolved to the point where we can, among many other things, literally immerse ourselves in historical events, observe, analyze and experience in three dimensions, two dimensional objects or objects too small to see. This technology is still in its infancy but already practical uses in research, development, and education are emerging. AR software companies such as Vuzix are developing applications for use in aviation, medicine, defense, and education that allows students to visually immerse themselves in a virtual world to experience and understand their craft, without  potentially dangerous consequences.

The potential for this technology is enormous. Everything from interactive three dimensional text books to touring virtual worlds of actual places and times in history are a possibility. This immersive approach, combined with student driven strategies for delivery would allow students to achieve higher levels of understanding in areas they have interest in. It could also be a stepping stone to an entirely new model for the delivery of our educational system in the twenty first century.

I downloaded three AR applications for my iPhone: Wikitude, Layer, and Acrossair Browser. All three apps provide instant information about the world around you. Much of the product delivery is done in 3D, with social networking links built right in; however, I can see little day to day use by anyone except if you were traveling or new to a city. I found the information provided was somewhat limited and blatantly obvious to anyone who has spent any time in Victoria. As more and more “Worlds” are uploaded to the applications I can see their usefulness increase. It is a technology in the process of finding itself.

References

Johnson, L., Levine, A., Smith, R., & Stone, S. (2010). The 2010 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

http://www.vuzix.com/AR_Site/default.asp

http://www.wikitude.org/en

http://www.layar.com/

http://www.acrossair.com/

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