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Just last Tuesday afternoon, Facebook announced it will buy Oculus VR, a Californian company which specializes in virtual reality products, for around US$ 2 Billion. There is a lot of potential in virtual reality with mobile devices, as it is possible to merge the virtual with our physical world. Augmented Reality (AR for short) is not a new technology. It started way back in 1980 when Steven Mann created the EyeTap (far before we have Google Glasses) that overlays computer vision system with text and graphical overlays on a photographically mediated reality, or Augmediated Reality.
So what is Augmented Reality? This video gives you a quick introduction to some of its potential.
As mentioned in the video, Augmented Reality is the ability to inter-overlay of virtual information into the real world. There are quite a few AR applications already in use in different industries (including one widely shown that is being used in the library to help identify mis-shelved books). Below are some examples of applications that could be considered in library environments:
- Word Lens for on the spot translations [iOS version and Android version available].
- Some collection materials may include AR features (eg. customer uses an AR app to access the digital content in Applied Arts Magazine) while GUP, the Guide to Unique Photography, has also enhanced an issue with Layar
- Singapore : The Asian Civiliasation Museum’s ‘Terracotta Warriors Come Alive’ iPhone app is the World’s first app to combine Augmented Reality (AR), location based gaming and interaction, for the museum’s exhibition ‘Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor and His Legacy’. See video for application.
- Philippines : Interactive Augmented reality for a publicity stunt for a Wedding Company
Mall goers are flocking to SM Megamall where guys are getting kissed by a ‘bride’ and girls are receiving a bouquet of roses from a ‘groom’ —all with just using interactive augmented reality experience. The most interesting part of this AR model lies in its interactivity. The augmented models will respond differently depending on how the girl reacts.
- See also a list of other AR projects undertaken by students at Ateneo University.
- Download ikea App to see what a piece of furniture will look like in our home before purchasing it. No more second trip needed with ikea App.
- Medical applications like Hallux Angles app are catching up with AR technology, giving surgeons more efficient and convenience in their work. With the use of Hallux Angles App, orthopaedic surgeons can use iPhones to scan X-ray films and have it highlight the issues.
- A video giving you an overview of five augmented reality apps
- Most augmented reality apps use GPS to locate themselves in specific environments. Some examples:
- New York, USA: points of interest in Pittsburgh and New York City detailing the art, life and death of Andy Warhol
- Victoria, Australia: Find craft collections
- Singapore: DBS Home Connect is a property app that shows nearby amenities and past transaction prices by scanning a property with your camera.
- How to use Aurasma by Gideon Williams and also another step-by-step guide by Aaron Tay (Singapore).
- Here are some ideas for using Aurasma in libraries from Anthony Humphries.
- Layar called themselves interactive Print. Surprisingly, it was pretty easy to use. I created my first AR layer in less than 10 minutes. I believe the bulk of my time was spent trying to find the poster and the links rather than the technology part. You may refer to their very detailed start up guide here, and then go here to test my AR poster. I would imagine it looking pretty cool when my user physically scans the same poster in real life.
- Do take note that Layar is rather fussy on the dimension and resolution of the medium, so you might want to read its DOs and DON’Ts first.
- The AR features of the LibraryThing Local app which uses Layar to help locate nearby bookstores and libraries. See a blog post about it.
- Use of AR in De La Salle University library’s learning commons (Philippines) where physical materials are to the online version of the subject guides/pathfinders as well as to the web videos included in the list of sources. AR also allows posting and sharing of comments and suggestions through Twitter and Facebook.
- Could the wayfinding in your library environment be improved with AR? Would an information literacy guided tour of your library be improved by including AR technology?
- Could you use an AR app like Lookator to make it easy for students to find the WiFi hotspots on campus?
- Is there complex equipment in your library? Perhaps a video demonstration could provide assistance to customers if it were available at the point of need via AR?
- Do you serve clients from different language backgrounds? Could you create an AR guide in their preferred language to help them be oriented to the library environment and services?
- Are you engaging your community in planning for a new library space? Could you let them move the furniture around using an AR app like Augment [iOS version and Android version]?
- Could you overlay local history film and audio clips into your local environment using an AR app?
- What would your summer reading club be like if you incorporated AR features?
Joan is a Senior Librarian (New Media) at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and has been in the profession for nearly five years now. Her forte lies in using social media and mobile tools. She graduated with a BSSc from National University of Singapore and holds a Master in Information Studies from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.