There are many ways that AR can be used in education, powering up the teaching and learning experience. The advantages of incorporating AR in educational settings are many, and include:

  • motivating students to explore learning content from different perspectives
  • supplementing existing educational tools and materials
  • enhancing subject areas (history, astronomy, geography, etc.) in which students might not otherwise easily be able to acquire practical real-world information
  • fostering and creating richer learning environments that cater to individual learning styles
  • contributing to the awakening of learners’ creativity and imagination providing students with additional freely-available learning resources that match their learning pace

Within the field of education, some of AR’s main application areas can be divided into the following categories:

  • AR books
  • AR games
  • Extensible discovery
  • 3D simulation modeling (design, construction, medical, etc.)

AR Books: Magic Book, AR Conversion Interface System

MagicBook was the brainchild of an AR conversion interface system proposed in 2001 by researchers from the University of Washington, Hiroshima City University of Japan and Sony Interactive Institute of Japan. The MagicBook is actually a mixed reality interface that utilizes an AR interface as an entry point. Its original design required the use of a handheld AR display. The display’s visual tracking enables users to observe and experience a superimposed virtual model as an augmented reality scene on the actual page of a book, from different angles. When a user wishes to explore a given AR scene in more depth, a switch on the handle triggers entrance into a corresponding VR scene. The experience therefore transforms itself into an immersive virtual reality scene. The interface also supports multi-dimensional collaboration featuring individual and/or God perspectives, and allows multiple users to experience the same virtual environment.

If the system is to be used as an educational application, glasses are naturally a better fit than a single handheld device in helping people to identify and understand objects from different angles. When seeking to enter an available content area, it can be triggered by a simple gesture or one-click tap, launching (for example) a VR game for improving memory, or a 3D-effect history story designed to help a user learn and retain historical information.

AR game: Alien Contact

AR games typically employ geo-tagging features, such as for board games and maps, which can be rendered in 3D when viewed through a mobile device or webcam. Such game features are easily applied to a range of educational disciplines including archaeology, history, anthropology or geography. Another form of AR game allows players to create virtual characters and objects and bind them to real-world locations. When players arrive at those locations in reality, the virtual characters and objects appear and interact with them, as we saw with the wildly-popular game Pokémon Go.

“Alien Contact” is an AR game designed by researchers from the Harvard University School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the MIT Teacher Education Program. With the support of the Department of Education, Alien Contact is meant to improve the literacy and math skills of middle schoolers. To play the game, students need to collect evidence that proves the existence of aliens, and that indicates why aliens visit Earth. Guided by a GPS-enabled handheld device equipped with a compass, over a wireless network, students explore specific areas in search of aliens. The game is meant to encourage students to make assumptions while exercising math, science and language skills.

Unfortunately, in an educational setting, Alien Contact falls short in several respects. Its highly gamified design has created problems for teachers looking to deliver a broader curriculum. As well, a number of students have experienced some cognitive overload while playing the game. This is partially due to the pressure of having to answer questions very quickly, while simultaneously attempting to master the technology itself. In addition, because students need to hold screen devices, videotaped evidence also suggests that students can become overly engrossed during gameplay. Although the game is, of course, designed to grab learners’ attention, it’s possible the addictive nature of Alien Contact may pose a safety risk for students who can become oblivious to their surroundings when playing.

Extensibility discovery: information reproduction and/or enhancement

Using AR technology as a discovery tool in the education industry is mostly centered on digitally reproducing historical relics, locales, and information for audiences. Products that have emerged in this space include a HoloLens HoloTour of Nottingham Castle, during which users can hear and observe relevant historical events at locations that correspond with specific geographical coordinates.

Another AR tool, the TAT Enhanced ID, was created by Swedish computer vision company Polar Rose, which uses facial recognition technology to view a person’s preset and approved information. After launching the phone application, a user can point the phone’s camera at a person nearby, whereupon the program detects the subject’s face and creates its unique signature by combining facial feature measurements and building a 3D model. This signature is then relayed to a cloud server and compared to the signatures of others stored in the database (by default, a user must actively opt to upload their own photo and profile and allow access to social account information, etc.). The server then sends the name of the person (along with their profile link) to social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook, which return results to the mobile device. The Polar Rose software also tracks the position of the human head, ensuring that faces aren’t obscured by displayed web link names and icons.

The tool’s educational learning advantage is that it allows participants at lectures, presentations, and conferences to quickly access information regarding a speaker’s profile and background, and related information and topics. By the same token, the system makes it possible for a speaker to identify students and retrieve relevant information on them.

The third tool relates to scene recognition. The SR Engine can simultaneously identify objects at different locations within the same scene. As image recognition technology continues to mature, it becomes all but certain that in the very near future, human beings will be able to instantly glean a broad range of information, on both individuals and objects. Such an eventuality, naturally, will necessarily engender privacy-related considerations.

Rokid Glass is here to make it happen! If you have any questions or would like to learn how Rokid’s AR solutions can add value to your projects then we’d love to hear from you! Please drop us a line over at glass@rokid.com