Augmented Reality is no science fiction. For people hearing about it for the first time, it may a sound a bit fancy, but believe me, it’s very much in the realms of earthly technologies.
Wikipedia defines Augmented Reality as “Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.” It is different from Virtual Reality where everything you see is generated by the computer.
The growth of Smartphones has opened up the market for Augmented Reality apps. Wikitude, Layar, and whole bunch of apps like these, are already being used for fun, facts, and also as useful utilities such as help with directions, finding the nearest metro station, and restaurant reviews.
One of the key challenges faced by instructional designers is how do you sustain interest in the learner after the class or online session. In such cases, Augmented Reality is a perfect medium to make follow-up study interesting and one that requires very little external motivation or coercion. At Sify (the company I work for), we are working on an interesting project to bring Augmented Reality for the K12 segment in China. Students receive Augmented Reality patterns (just like QR codes) along with a CD-ROM that has the software for running Augmented Reality in their machines.
Students then runs the CD-ROM and places the pattern in front of the web cam to view the Augmented Reality animation. For example, if the student has an assignment to learn more about the solar system, he can actually see the planets in 3 dimensional animation through the webcam and interact with them in real-time. The Augmented Reality application builds up excitement and delivers an indelible impact on the mind of the student.
There are plenty of other Augmented Reality applications that we can think of that will forever revolutionize job-specific training. I will discuss some of my ideas in a subsequent blog post.