What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR), a capability that has been around for some time, is shifting from what once required rooms of equipment to a set of simple-to-use tools with tremendous potential. The layering of information over 3D space produces a new experience of the world, sometimes referred to as “blended reality,” 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. This interactivity confers significant potential for learning and assessment; with it, students can construct new understanding based on interactions with virtual objects that bring underlying data to life.

As augmented reality is becoming increasingly used in education, there are more services and tools available to author AR resources. For example, tag-based augmented reality applications are being replaced by image-recognition systems to remove the unsuitable tags from the environment. Additionally, teachers and students are embracing location-based AR applications, such as Google Goggles, because it makes for more authentic and immersive learning experiences. However, the development cost of these technologies is still very high and only available for developers. As a result, new authoring tools are emerging so that this technology is more affordable for institutions, which will is the key for the widespread adoption of augmented reality in education.

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

  • Augmented reality could add an important added-value for digital electronics learning by providing augmented step-by-step tutorials showing how to create specific circuits.- Sergio Sergio Jul 21, 2012
  • to get a better understanding of models, laws/rules and phenomena, make unseen phenomena seen (e.g. electric field lines), augment additional information - Christian.Guetl Christian.Guetl Aug 9, 2012
  • Students may be incorporated in the process of authoring AR resources with their own research, at all levels. - antonio.vantaggiato antonio.vantaggiato Aug 18, 2012
  • AR offers the integration of guided learning into authentic, real-world learning environments. There's nothing more contextually relevant than to be working on a build project in civil engineering and have guidance relevant to exactly what you are doing with the materials you're working with right 'in front' of you (through the AR overlay). - Phillip.Long Phillip.Long
  • Continuing the theme started by Sergio, in engineering the use of augmented reality to provide just-in-time learning is limitless. Imagine just-in-time schematics of buildings and building systems, parts lists and energy consumption analysis sheets for products the mobile phone is pointing at, interactive physics challenges overcome by a machine, or even the social context of an digital product such as number of units sold / average price / impacts to society / etc. - Russ.Meier Russ.Meier Aug 19, 2012

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

  • we have to include different end devices and different settings - fromn full immersive to using mobiles - Christian.Guetl Christian.Guetl Aug 9, 2012
  • The parallel concept of augmented virtuality (i.e. enriching virtual environments with data from the real world). - David.Lowe David.Lowe Aug 9, 2012
  • I think that mobile phones are a great platform for supporting augmented reality. But, what we really need are glasses / sunglasses that support presentation of material directly to the users eyes. The user must become immersed in the augmented reality. This will require wearable computers -- a technology that is gradually maturing but still has many years of development to go. - Russ.Meier Russ.Meier Aug 19, 2012

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on STEM+ education?

  • to get a better understanding of models, laws/rules and phenomena, make unseen phenomena seen (e.g. electric field lines), augment additional information - Christian.Guetl Christian.Guetl Aug 9, 2012
  • This is likely to be extremely important. Situated feedback that is relevant to the actual practice of technical work should be come mainstream as we move from enabled phones to wearable devices (e.g., Google Glasses). - Phillip.Long Phillip.Long Aug 18, 2012
  • Immersing the user in a constant learning environment. They will be able to "turn on" or "turn off" the AR interface and thus have the choice of learning or not. That kind of flexibility makes learning fun -- learning on my time rather than on a mandated training schedule or school day. - Russ.Meier Russ.Meier Aug 19, 2012

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

  • UNED developed a virtual lab of an engine to be used remotely with an augmented reality control panel.- Sergio Sergio Jul 21, 2012
  • my group (AEMT group) has stared working on such research - Christian.Guetl Christian.Guetl Aug 9, 2012
  • The military , particularly in the US, is already putting this to work in many training contexts. For example, helping mechanics fix vehicles. In addition there are many companies already in the market with AR systems for engineering. For example Metaio uses AR for the visualization of future facilities within a current production environment and illustrating work and maintenance instructions directly onto a component to deviation measurement between a CAD model and the related assembly part; a gallery of AR visor projects is available at Augmented Reality Visor. Microsoft is working with the University of Washington on the functional contact lens project to measure glucose levels of a wearer of a specially designed contact lens and wireless send data on the wearers blood glucose status in real-time, eliminating the need to do finge pricks to sample blood 6-8 times a day. A YouTube video of the project demonstrates its potential. Really quite remarkable. - Phillip.Long Phillip.Long Aug 18, 2012
  • A significant amount of early research into wearable computer research has been done at MIT. http://www.media.mit.edu/wearables/, tech companies such as Apple and Google are moving into the space, and even fitness companies are getting into the action (Nike for example).
    - Russ.Meier Russ.Meier Aug 19, 2012

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