Monday, 31 August 2015

Thing 14: Augmented Reality

Augmented reality in use at the Museu de Mataro linking to Catalan Wikipedia.  img. src Wikimedia commons.

When the topic of Augmented Reality came up as a potential module for this course I got a similar reaction from more than one person - " Sounds great, though I'm not sure what that is, or how to use it".

Augmented Reality or AR is considered to be one of the next big things in mobile technology. This technology allows users to scan an object using their mobile device and access information connected to that object. The scanned image that appears on the screen comes to life with video, moving images, text or other enhancements.

When you see Augmented Reality at its full potential, it looks like something that belongs in a science fiction movie, but it's real, and becoming a much more common occurrence in our every day lives.

Here is an article citing some of the most popular augmented reality apps available at the moment. Google Goggles (not to be confused with Google Glass)  is probably one of the earliest augmented reality apps but like with a lot of Google products, it doesn't seem to have taken off. To get a true flavour of how Augmented Reality can be used as an educational tool, download Anatomy 4D (mentioned in the article above ) to your phone or tablet and visit their website here. Scan one of the images using the app that you just downloaded.

We're going to talk about two apps that are available for users to create their own AR campaigns: Aurasma and Layar.

I recently did a basic Augmented Reality project in my public library for our Summer Reading Programme. Last year we were lucky enough to have an Augmented Reality app from Solus to go with our reading programme and it got such a positive response that I felt we should have something similar again this year. Because we weren't partnering with the Reading Agency this year we had to do it ourselves.

Aurasma and Layar

Both apps are practically identical in the steps required when creating an AR campaign.
  • The creator (me in this case) uploads images to the Layar/Aurasma website
  • Chose from a range of items to add to your image such as video, web-links, phone numbers or images.
  • Publish you image on the provider's webpage. 
  • Users can then scan the same image in print format, using the AR app, and watch the videos or links appear on their phone or tablet. 
There were a few slight differences between the two apps:

  • It's free to create a campaign with Aurasma
  • You have to pay a fee to create a campaign with Layar
  • The user (the public) must set up an account with Aurasma by providing an email address before they can use it 
  • The Layar app is ready to use once it has been downloaded.

 For our Summer Reading Programme I decided to go with Layar. I was conscious of the fact that this was a project aimed at children. Asking people to sign up to Aurasma by email would create an extra obstacle which could deter them from engaging with the project. Layar's pricing was very reasonable and because it was a small program that only ran for two months the cost was very small.

Our Summer Reading Programme is called Summer Buzz and so I stuck to the theme of bees and nature when searching for images to use.

I searched the internet for reusable Gifs of bees and bugs and butterflies that I could download freely. 
Gifs are a type of moving image, usually about 5 seconds long that play on a loop. They can be used as still images also.
I chose six different Gifs which I downloaded and then used as still images to create six posters.

On the poster I included the Layar logo and our own Summer Buzz logo along with a still image of the Gif that I downloaded.

I then uploaded these posters to the Layar website and attached the moving Gif files to them. 
When the poster is scanned using the Layar app on a mobile phone or tablet the Gif comes to life. Magic!

 Once the campaign has been published anyone can download a Layar app to their phone and scan a print version of the same image to see the content come to life. It's important that you have a reliable wifi connection in your library for it to work successfully.

The great thing about these campaigns is that you can make as many print copies of the poster you want. In this case, we have 30 branch libraries in our County. I emailed the six posters to all of our libraries so that they could print them and hang them themselves. I could have printed more and hung them on public notice boards to promote our reading programme - next year perhaps.

You could potentially create a campaign that can be used across your entire country or worldwide.
It is a very low - cost simple project with far -reaching benefits.

Here is an article about the Public Libraries 2020 campaign and their use of Layar for their advocacy campaign Libraries Change Lives.
Click to Enlarge

This image shows you the steps to go through to create a campaign on Layar. You can test your image before publishing it to make sure that it works ok.

I also created an instructional poster to show library patrons what to do. I included a paragraph in the poster explaining to parents why we have included the AR project as part of our reading programme. 

You might be wondering this yourself, why would we want to use something like this in our libraries?

For our Summer Reading Programme it was a bit of fun and an extra element for the children to engage with during the summer holidays. 

More importantly though, it taught the children valuable digital skills and introduced them to new technology which will be much more commonplace when these children are adults.  For many children, the library is the first place that they are introduced to new technology and see firsthand its possible uses.

Digital Literacy is increasingly important and we need to start incorporating it into our library programming and future library strategies. More and more we are required to use online web tools and technology such as touch screens to carry out every day tasks such as buying train tickets, checking in our bags at the airport or paying our taxes. We need to learn these digital skills not just to be tech savvy and keep up with what's trendy but also to function in society.

Here's an article that demonstrates some new and very impressive technology for libraries today. One of the examples is LibrARi, an Augmented Reality app which seems to be a concept for now, but possibly a reality very soon. If you have the time, take a look  at the other technologies in this article, but also look a the demo video for LibrARi.

Your task this week: 

  • Take a look at the Aurasma or Layar apps
  • Try creating a campaign with one of the apps.
  • Take a look at one of the other Augmented Reality apps such as Anatomy 4D  or the LibrARi demo.   

  • Write a blog post about your thoughts on using Augmented Reality in the Library. Have you seen it used anywhere or used it yourself? 
Take a look at our Pinterest page for more examples of Augmented Reality in use in libraries. 

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I have been referencing this article quite often. Thank you for providing such valuable information.

    VR Canada


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