Module 3 – Augmented reality, as a real alternative to analogue didactic materials

The purpose of this module is to raise Andragogs’ awareness and ability to use Augmented Reality (AR) tools in Adult Education, to extend and develop their competences, thus enabling them to perform effective training of low-skilled adults in many different fields, where AR tools could be successfully adapted. In addition to the specific pedagogical knowledge, skills and attitudes required for providing Adult Education, the Andragogs need also technical knowledge and the goal of this module is to deliver it.

The module includes basic information about Augmented Reality: definition, origin, terminology, variety, advantages and limitations, main applications, available technologies and tools, information on how to create AR applications.

By the end of this module, you will learn:

  • What is Augmented Reality,
  • How does AR work,
  • Different types of AR,
  • What are main applications of AR,
  • How it can be used in various fields,
  • The role and the future of AR in education,
  • Apps that can be used in education,
  • How to create your own App for the teaching/training process.

Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/augmented-reality-tablet-4497342/

[nextpage title=”What is Augmented Reality?”]

Wondering what a superimposition and haptic communication are? What are smart glasses and head-mounted displays? What is Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality? What’s mobile computing? What do all these digital trends mean? Are we ever going to catch up? All the questions will be answered in the current Augmented Reality course.

For most people Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR), are still a quite abstract and exotic technologies, often perceived as the science-fiction out of Hollywood movies. Animate holograms, interactive displays, and virtual 3D models. In fact, all these things do already exist despite not long time ago they were just a plaything in tech-laboratories or a research-and-development experiment in large technology companies. VR, and its technological cousin augmented reality (AR), are quickly proving to be the next pieces of transformational technology. Estimates vary very much on just how big these markets might become, but many estimates place business revenue of VR and AR at over $100 billion by 2021, if not sooner. (Mealy, Paul. Virtual & Augmented Reality for Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)).

Real environment modified by computer-generated objects is present in many areas, from aviation to gaming, we are just not aware of it as users. Have you tried to catch a Pokémon in recent years, or fit furniture in your room via IKEA app? That is AR, and it has more far-reaching areas of potential use. It is still in development and multiple engineers and tech companies around the world are working to enhance it. In the meantime, let us find out what is Augmented Reality and how it can be used in various spheres from gaming to cosmic and military projects.

Augmented reality is a way of viewing the real world (either directly or via device such as a camera creating a visual of the real world) and „augmenting“ that real-world visual with computer generated input such as still graphics, audio or videos. AR is different from VR (Virtual Reality) in that AR augments (adds to) a real-world or existing scene instead of creating something new from scratch.

By strict definition, in AR, the computer-generated content is an overlay on top of the real-world content. The two environments have no way of communicating with or responding to one another. However, AR‘s definition has been somewhat co-opted in recent years to also include a more blended hybrid called mixed reality, in which interaction occur between the real world and digitally augmented content.

Augmented reality is the technology that expands our physical world, adding layers of digital information onto it. Unlike Virtual Reality (VR), AR does not create the whole artificial environments to replace real with a virtual one. AR appears in direct view of an existing environment and adds sounds, videos, graphics to it.

A view of the physical real-world environment with superimposed computer-generated images, thus changing the perception of reality, is the AR.

The term itself was coined back in 1990, and one of the first commercial uses were in television and military. With the rise of the Internet and smartphones, AR rolled out its second wave and nowadays is mostly related to the interactive concept. 3D models are directly projected onto physical things or fused together in real-time, various augmented reality apps impact our habits, social life, and the entertainment industry.

AR apps typically connect digital animation to a special ‘marker’, or with the help of GPS in phones pinpoint the location. Augmentation is happening in real time and within the context of the environment, for example, overlaying scores to a live feed sport events.

There are 4 types of augmented reality today:

  • markerless AR
  • marker-based AR
  • projection-based AR
  • superimposition-based AR

Few videos presenting Augmented Reality:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09vxKN1zLNI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q83gKk5jbto

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA4uvkAStPc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEVKtPEcgQg

[nextpage title=”Brief history of Augmented Reality”]

AR in the 1960s. In 1968 Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull created a first head-mounted display, they called it The Sword of Damocles. Obviously, it was a rough device that displayed primitive computer graphics.

AR in the 1970s. In 1975 Myron Krueger created Videoplace – an artificial reality laboratory. The scientist envisioned the interaction with digital stuff by human movements. This concept later was used for certain projectors, video cameras, and onscreen silhouettes.

AR in the 1980s. In 1980 Steve Mann developed a first portable computer called EyeTap, designed to be worn in front of the eye. It recorded the scene to superimposed effects on it later, and show it all to a user who could also play with it via head movements. In 1987 Douglas George and Robert Morris developed the prototype of a heads-up display (HUD). It displayed astronomical data over the real sky.

AR in the 1990s. The year 1990 marked the birth of the “augmented reality” term. It first appeared in the work of Thomas Caudell and David Mizell – Boeing company researchers. In 1992 Louis Rosenberg of the US Air Force created the AR system called “Virtual Fixtures”. In 1999, a group of scientists led by Frank Delgado and Mike Abernathy tested new navigation software, which generated runways and streets data from a helicopter video.

AR in the 2000s. In 2000 a Japanese scientist Hirokazu Kato developed and published ARToolKit – an open-source SDK. Later it was adjusted to work with Adobe. In 2004 Trimble Navigation presented an outdoor helmet-mounted AR system. In 2008 Wikitude made the AR Travel Guide for Android mobile devices.

AR today. In 2013 Google beta tested the Google Glass – with internet connection via Bluetooth. In 2015 Microsoft presented two brand new technologies: Windows Holographic and HoloLens (an AR goggles with lots of sensors to display HD holograms). In 2016 Niantic launched Pokemon Go game for mobile devices. The app blew the gaming industry up and earned $2 million in a just first week.

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/pokem 1

In 2017, AR underwent its largest boost in public awareness since its inception, as both Apple and Google released their own takes on AR for their various handheld mobile devices running either iOS or Android. Though neither has released exact numbers, estimates place the number of users with ARKit- or ARCore-capable devices to have reached over a quarter billion by the end of 2017.

Most current predictions for VR have VR ubiquity occurring no later than 2022, with AR coming a few years behind (2025 or so). By that time, experts predict VR and AR will have woven themselves completely into our daily lives and picturing our lives without them would be akin to picturing our lives today without mobile phones or the Internet.

[nextpage title=”How does Augmented Reality work?”]

What is Augmented Reality for many of us implies a technical side, i.e. how does AR work? For AR a certain range of data (images, animations, videos, 3D models) may be used and people will see the result in both natural and synthetic light. Also, users are aware of being in the real world, which is advanced by computer vision, unlike in VR.

AR can be displayed on various devices: screens, glasses, handheld devices, mobile phones, head-mounted displays. It involves technologies like S.L.A.M. (simultaneous localization and mapping), depth tracking (briefly, a sensor data calculating the distance to the objects), and the following components:

Cameras and sensors. Collecting data about user’s interactions and sending it for processing. Cameras on devices are scanning the surroundings and with this info, a device locates physical objects and generates 3D models. It may be special duty cameras, like in Microsoft Hololens, or common smartphone cameras to take pictures/videos.

Processing. AR devices eventually should act like little computers, something modern smartphones already do. In the same manner, they require a CPU, a GPU, flash memory, RAM, Bluetooth/Wi-Fi, a GPS, etc. to be able to measure speed, angle, direction, orientation in space, and so on.

Projection. This refers to a miniature projector on AR headsets, which takes data from sensors and projects digital content (result of processing) onto a surface to view. In fact, the use of projections in AR has not been fully invented yet to use it in commercial products or services.

Reflection. Some AR devices have mirrors to assist human eyes to view virtual images. Some have an “array of small curved mirrors” and some have a double-sided mirror to reflect light to a camera and to a user’s eye. The goal of such reflection paths is to perform a proper image alignment.

[nextpage title=”Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality, AR vs VR”]

Only in recent years virtual and augmented reality began to receive much more attention. In the extremely short period, the developers have achieved astounding success in integrating the functionality of virtual and augmented in many industries. So, what is there about AR vs VR?

According to expert analysis, it is said that VR leads since 2018, while AR is going to take over in longer perspective becoming the dominant technology in our daily lives. Famous brands, movie studios, game developers, and news organizations are already using adapted solutions for their needs.

Virtual reality takes you away from the real world and completely blocks your sight with another digital environment. It is used in architecture, tourism, rehabilitation, healthcare, sports, entertainment.

Augmented Reality brings non-existent objects into the real world transforming the surroundings with overlay imagery. It is used in education, arts, marketing, military, media, business.

Virtual Reality (VR) opens new horizons to:

Tell your story: today VR is one and only technology that guarantees full user concentration on the content. Virtual Reality provides a unique opportunity to tell a story with full immersion into the process.

Take reality to a new level: the all-embracing nature of VR moves a user from the real environment to a digital world, though it has less practical use compared to AR.

Augmented Reality (AR)has the potential to:

  • Change your environment: Augmented reality technology goes the simpler way using contextual overlays with information or imagery in real time that appears on the gadget’s screen or around you as holograms. You have already seen something like this, Tony Stark’s hovering suit in Iron Man series would be a good example.
  • Get attention from media corporations: as for today, AR has a bright future on the horizon thanks to several major projects with large investments that expand the limits of the technology. Those are various models of smart glasses developed by Google, Sony, Vuzix, HoloLens by Microsoft, and the mysterious Magic Leap device, of course.

[nextpage title=”In between AR and VR: Mixed reality”]

Mixed reality is going to be the next major step from ordinary reality as we see it. MR delivers most realistic virtual object flirting that way with reality. Mixed Reality combines best aspects of AR and VR. Mixed Reality technology is all about bringing virtual images in real time and space, visualise them, and make them appear as good as real ones thanks to the advanced algorithms of coordinate calculation.

[nextpage title=”Types of Augmented Reality”]

  1. Marker-based AR. Some also call it to image recognition, as it requires a special visual object and a camera to scan it. It may be anything, from a printed QR code to special signs. The AR device also calculates the position and orientation of a marker to position the content, in some cases. Thus, a marker initiates digital animations for users to view, and so images in a magazine may turn into 3D models.

    Image source: Augmented Reality trends

  2. Markerless AR. It is location-based or position-based augmented reality, that utilizes a GPS, a compass, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer to provide data based on user’s location. This data then determines what AR content you find or get in a certain area. With the availability of smartphones this type of AR typically produces maps and directions, nearby businesses info. Applications include events and information, business ads pop-ups, navigation support.

    Image source: Catchoom

  3. Projection-based AR. Projecting synthetic light to physical surfaces, and in some cases allows to interact with it. These are the holograms we have all seen in sci-fi movies like Star Wars. It detects user interaction with a projection by its alterations.

    Image source: YouTube

  4. Superimposition-based AR.Replaces the original view with an augmented, fully or partially. Object recognition plays a key role, without it the whole concept is simply impossible. We have all seen the example of superimposed augmented reality in IKEA Catalogue app, that allows users to place virtual items of their furniture catalogue in their rooms.

Image source: Yamagata Europe

[nextpage title=”Augmented reality devices”]

Many modern devices already support Augmented reality. From smartphones and tablets to gadgets like Google Glass or handheld devices, and these technologies continue to evolve. For processing and projection, AR devices and hardware, first of all, have requirements such as sensors, cameras, accelerometer, gyroscope, digital compass, GPS, CPU, displays, and things we have already mentioned.

Devices suitable for Augmented reality fall into the following categories:

  • Mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) – the most available and best fit for AR mobile apps, ranging from pure gaming and entertainment to business analytics, sports, and social networking. Although arguably on the low end of AR experiences, mobile devices currently cover the largest market segment for AR. Applications such as Snapchat, Instagram, Yelp, and Pokémon Go have all offered rudimentary forms of AR for some time now, though most users may not have realized Every time you found yourself adding bunny ears to your image on Snapchat or found Pikachu cavorting in your local park, you were using a primitive form of AR on mobile.
  • Special AR devices, designed primarily and solely for augmented reality experiences. One example is head-up displays (HUD), sending data to a transparent display directly into user’s view. Originally introduced to train military fighter pilots, now such devices have applications in aviation, automotive industry, manufacturing, sports, etc.
  • AR glasses (or smart glasses) – Google Glasses, Meta 2 Glasses, Laster See-Thru, Laforge AR eyewear, etc. These units are capable of displaying notifications from your smartphone, assisting assembly line workers, access content hands-free, etc.
  • AR contact lenses (or smart lenses), taking Augmented Reality one step even further. Manufacturers like Samsung and Sony have announced the development of AR lenses. Respectively, Samsung is working on lenses as the accessory to smartphones, while Sony is designing lenses as separate AR devices (with features like taking photos or storing data).
  • Virtual retinal displays (VRD), creating images by projecting laser light into the human eye. Aiming at bright, high contrast and high-resolution images, such systems yet remain to be made for a practical use.

[nextpage title=”Possible applications of AR”]

Augmented reality may complement our everyday activities in various ways. For instance, one of the most popular applications of AR is gaming. New AR games provide much better experiences to players, some even promote a more active outgoing way of life (PokemonGo, Ingress). Gaming grounds are being moved from virtual spheres to real life, and players actually perform certain activities. For instance, a simple gym activity for kids by the Canadian company SAGA, where to crack cubes moving on a wall children hit it with a ball as is presented in videos: Interactive Gym Walll and Interactive Playground.

AR in retail may act to bring better customer engagement and retention, as well as brand awareness and more sales. Some features may also help customers make wiser purchases – providing product data with 3D models of any size or colour. Real estate can also benefit from Augmented Reality via 3D tours of apartments and houses, that can also be manipulated to amend some parts. Main areas and use of the AR:

  • Education: interactive models for learning and training purposes, from mathematics “to chemistry.
  • Adult education: interactive models for learning and training purposes, visualisation, calculations or modelling.
  • Medicine/healthcare: to help diagnose, monitor, train, localize, etc.
  • Military: for advanced navigation, marking objects in real time.
  • Art / installations / visual arts / music.
  • Tourism: data on destinations, sightseeing objects, navigation, and directions.
  • Broadcasting: enhancing live events and event streaming by overlaying content.
  • Industrial design: to visualise, calculate or model.

[nextpage title=”How do AR apps work”]

Augmented Reality is a way of overlaying virtual animated objects onto real-world surroundings using mobile devices. A live environment augmented by digital data – sounds, images, videos. There are 2 groups of AR apps:

  • Marker-based apps
  • Location-based apps

First ones work with image recognition using a camera to scan an image (marker) and then add a virtual image on the phone screen. For example, many apps read QR codes and present additional information. Location-based AR apps use GPS to locate places nearby and/or to offer directions, etc.

The idea for using augmented reality apps is simple:

  • Download the app
  • Get the marker image/code/flyer
  • Place the marker in your environment
  • Point the device at the marker and interact with augmented reality
  • AR apps are mostly used in commerce, entertainment, games, retail, medicine, education.

Augmented reality in retail has huge potential to boost sales, while more than 50% of smartphone owners use it when shopping. Moreover, 33% of them use already AR benefits in stores.

IT giants invest millions of dollars into various projects and new start-ups rise from nowhere:

  • Google has already published Tango project and invested $1.4 billion into Magic Leap.
  • Apple Inc. has introduced the platform to develop augmented reality for iOS devices, called ARKit, and new products are being released already.
  • Snapchat estimated $30-$40 million to acquire Israeli augmented reality start-up Cimagine Media.
  • Facebook paid $2 billion for Oculus.
  • Other software companies like Microsoft Corp., are developing their own solutions like Microsoft Hololens.
  • Start-ups are heavily funded and reach more than $650 million (Augment (1,8M), VividWorks (1,7M), Sayduck (1M) etc…)

Many analysts herald that AR market will grow to more than $100-130 billion by 2020.

[nextpage title=”Content is customizable to match user needs”]

According to Michael DeGustar’s and Nicholas Felton’s research work, new innovation techs have lately adopted faster than before. That has taken almost 20 years to electrify more than 50% of U.S. citizens in 1900- years. Meantime internet hit 50% point during almost 7 years.

There is a strong estimate that AR, as well as VR, would become the major platform in marketing. They probably take place between PC, web and mobile devices. After some time, CEOs and marketers will find how to use new AR techs to hit the best advantages in business.

According to Digi-capital research, 80% of AR/VR revenue by 2020 will become from sales, ad expenses and mobile data/voice. And AR would take 75% of $120 billion markets, while VR stays on 25%.

[nextpage title=”AR removes language barriers”]

International companies that have branches around the world meet new challenges as soon as they try to take new markets. There is no doubt that language challenges take some time and cost to be taken.

But AR provides wide options to avoid most language problems. Nowadays Google translate AR mode allows users to see any text of 40 foreign languages as the native one. AR content in the most printed catalogue has options to choose the language of information and tips. A theatre in Paris in connection with Atos and Optinvent creates AR solution that allows supporting subtitles of the theatre how.

[nextpage title=”Examples of some retailer AR apps”]

IKEA AR App. According to IKEA survey, 14% of their clients bought the wrong size furniture in past. According to that research, IKEA has created the AR app that includes inside 90 of their products.

By using AR benefits users are allowed to scan a good old-fashioned printed page of the catalogue and see a 3D model of selected furniture. The model will be in real size and help customers to find where it fits best. Any user can design whatever he wants from augmented reality kitchen to living room, by using IKEA AR app.

Clothes retailer Top Shop created an innovative feature for its own fitting room with AR support. Standing in front of augmented reality kiosk, shoppers may see a digital reflection of themselves exactly like in a simple mirror. Meantime AR kiosk has virtual buttons which can be pressed by hands of a customer to take new or change virtual clothes onto their reflection.

Placing such kind of augmented reality room right out allows to entrap not just one customer alone, but groups of friends and family to enjoy the process together. A customer can without any problems try anything he likes staying in clothes he is. The main advantage that technology works is intuitive and easy to master, without any special tips or help.

British grocery and common merchandise company, Tesco PLC is the 3rd largest retail company worldwide. It holds a large amount of market in 12 countries from Europe to Asia. As customers of the company started using smartphones for shopping Tesco announced its own app. It saves best features of most grocery apps while adding AR mode.

Tesco Discover app allows a customer to scan Tesco product labels, magazines and in-store POS to get extra information about the Tesco products, as well as interact with customized features, buy products and engage with in-store experiences.

By using the Converse shop application “Shoe Sampler”, now any customer may easily look for the suitable shoe even without leaving the comfortable chair in his or her living room. It also helps to avoid the try-on experience. Simply by pointing the camera of a smartphone at their foot, the app provides a wide range of shoes and superimposes. On display of the camera, users may see how exactly the footwear will look like on their foot. Converse Shoe Sampler application allows to use social platforms and to know friends and family thoughts on the purchase.

Cosmetic brand from Japan Shiseido developed touchscreen monitor which is available in their retail stores. By using easy and intuitive interface customers take a photo of themselves. After that, they manually apply various styles and makeup colours to the photo. By analysing of user’s choice in cosmetics and styles Shiseido’s software is able to recommend suitable products. Augmented reality retail experience supports tips and streamlines that make the process easier and more fun. As shoppers enjoy and come to shop ‘just for fun’ sales in store increase.

Popular diamonds jewellery retailer, De Beers, started using AR technology to marketing. Official De Beers “My Foremark Fitting” site provides visitors with a chance to try AR model of their production. Print cut-outs of jewellery, that are available on site, and hold it in front of webcam near the face to see De Beers’ jewellery on you.

Famous Danish toys retailer brand LEGO also engaged to use AR in marketing strategies. Lego uses both experiences for own customers. There is a stationary AR stand in stores, that provides a visual 3D animated model of what contents inside the box. As well as there is an application for smartphones and tablets to visualise printed catalogue pages.

[nextpage title=”Augmented Reality in Real Estate”]

Augmented reality is gaining traction in almost every industry and real estate does not seem to be an exception. Some agencies have already made use of this modern technology in several ways, from refreshing their print catalogues to interactive demonstrations at installation and on a mobile screen. Even though AR is just at the start of its path, augmented reality in real estate is already providing serious business opportunities.

It has the value similar to a marketing method, as well as a tool to encourage clients into a conversation and purchases. More importantly, AR usage presents benefits as to customers so to real estate agencies/agents:

  • Clients get more informative and visual proposals
  • Agencies deal with clients that have a clearer vision on a possible deal

[nextpage title=”How does augmented reality aid real estate business?”]

Almost every agency struggles when it comes to visualization of their catalogue. The setbacks with all the tools in use are common:

  • Print text descriptions of apartments say nothing (or very little) to buyers
  • Photo ads are better, but still, you cannot show the whole realistic picture
  • 3D models on mobile or desktop applications are interactive, and yet lack in full presentation
  • Visiting each site along with customers is too time-consuming

Augmented reality tools and AR mobile apps in particular help tackle those issues nicely. With a single touch of the button, clients are able to all-angle AR models of any apartment of their interest. Without leaving the office or home, they may browse, compare and analyse flats/houses/offices in great detail. Moreover, they can also interact with it experiencing an ‘almost-present’ feeling. Watch few examples of AR in real estate in the video.

[nextpage title=”Benefits of augmented reality in real estate”]

  1. New marketing options

People adore everything new, sci-fi and entertaining. And clearly, you can fully use their interest for your own profit with this innovative tools to advertise and distribute your products:

  • Print catalogues and big boards with AR to be more interactive
  • Geo-tags to help locate your items on sale in the real world, so customers can discover for themselves
  • New advertising possibilities
  • Animated ‘Contact us’ and other call-to-action buttons
  • Wide coverage with apps on Google Play and App Store
  1. Clearer understanding of products

Augmented reality visualization works much better than both photos and videos with a text description. And the more complex an object is the better assistance AR presentation offers. In this regard, you can:

  • Accurately visualise large buildings through augmented 3D models
  • With AR app features show apartments to clients, adjusting the style, furniture, surroundings, etc. along the way
  1. Better engagement

According to various field studies, augmented reality in real estate gets customers more interested and involved. Same as the AR technology in general, as it is quite entertaining and fascinating. And it is not a secret, that one has a better chance, when dealing with engaged potential customers, to turn them into real customers buying products and services.

  1. Save time and resources

Obviously, most of the real estate clients want to visit apartments by themselves, before making the final decision about the purchase. While it hardly can be changed, Augmented Reality in real estate may significantly lower the numbers of exploratory visits, that people need to form an initial opinion.

  • Exploring the AR catalogue via a mobile app, clients may choose the site of interest even before going to the agency
  • Realistically looking AR models allow clients to decide which real estate sites they do like and which they do not like.

[nextpage title=”Real Estate AR apps”]

Augmented reality applications for real estate basically fall into 3 categories regarding the complexity of development. While basic apps offer simple 3D objects appearing on your phone, more advanced apps may feature markers/QR codes to initiate AR, HQ interactive animations, etc.

Simple AR app Advanced AR app Enterprise AR app
Basic environment Basic environment High-quality environment
Simple object models High-quality models Detailed textures and lightning
Basic textures High-quality textures Object animations
Basic lightning High-quality lightning Realistic textures and objects
App Store adaptation Sharing options Interaction and sharing
Google Play adaptation App Store adaptation Database integration
Google Play adaptation App Store adaptation
QR code for products Google Play adaptation
Custom landing page
QR code for products

To illustrate what we are talking about, here are some AR apps in real estate already active on the market.

ARHouse

This app for iPhone/iPad devices is designed as a tool to create amazing and impressive presentations in AR format. Three-dimensional models are fully controlled and can be easily manipulated to show all benefits to the customers. Therefore, architects, construction companies and real estate agencies can make a great use of it. You are able to present an overall look of the estate or a view of the particular floor/room to customers with a smartphone.

ARHouse features:

  • Visualizing projects wherever you need
  • View an Augmented reality 3D model or blueprint without any additional tools
  • Sharing models with customers, so they may check and revisit at any time

Realtor.com

A real estate app for Android devices primarily, also available for iOS has several AR features introduced and pending the patenting. The app is based around the image recognition feature that offers provides listing details and photos from a simple picture. Those 2 AR features, namely Street Peek and Sign Snap, allow people with smartphones point at a house or building and receive info from Realtor database.

Visually pleasing and full of extensive data: you see the price, the address, number of beds and baths, square footage, as well as real estate agent contacts. Just walking around neighbourhoods and holding a phone you can find what houses are on sale.

[nextpage title=”AR in ecommerce”]

AR in ecommerce soon will revolt way we shop in the web. The growth of consumers’ demands an evolution of mobile devices and market capabilities lead to strong trends that make AR one of the major tools and platforms in the tech world. Main events that influence AR trends and development:

  • Magic Leap has got from Google $800 million alone and 1.4 billion from others
  • Apple has bought Metaio
  • Facebook advanced Oculus which has cost them almost $2 billion
  • Alibaba also announced that they are working on creating the Virtual and Augmented Reality services for ecommerce
  • Other major players like Microsoft, HTC/Valve, Sony, Samsung have their own projects

All of that makes AR slowly capturing the interest of consumers and takes over mobile devices by creating a connection between the real and digital world. Meantime e-commerce companies may take their own role in all of this and rise up on a tide of new techs, like Amazon using internet overgrown Walmart 20 years ago.

[nextpage title=”Key Trends In eCommerce”]

For last year online shopping market has reached the highest number of sales via smartphones and tablets. And there is no doubt that the trend would only grow by the time. Past 2016 should be called as a year of e-commerce domination. One of the worldwide biggest retail brand Walmart announced that they have included in their plans to fund $2 billion to develop own online store. Amazon meantime overpowered valuation of Walmart. It has increased up to 42% sales of packaged goods to customers.

But for e-commerce, there are still other heavy challenges that should be solved. One of them is the conversions rate. Traditionally it stays low in the range of 2%-4%, while traditional brick-and-mortar conversions vary in 20%-40% range. E-commerce loses to retailers in sensory limits. As customers come to store, they want to try by themselves everything they want before making decisions to purchase.

54% of customers prefer visiting stores because they cannot fully visualise products in online stores.

Nowadays e-commerce proposes good solutions to manage with that problem, Augmented Reality (AR) is among the top ones. As mobile devices change the landscape of e-commerce market (eCommerce has reported about up to 34% of all deals in online shopping by 2016 and its growth up to $626 billion in 2018), augmented reality soon should change the way we shop.

[nextpage title=”The Future of AR: Is Magic Leap One going to change the AR industry?”]

As you have probably heard, one of the most famous tech start-ups Magic Leap has revealed a demo, a prototype of a brand new AR system called Magic Leap One. Well, not quite revealed, more like allowed a sneak peak to few. It is truly great news of innovative augmented reality hardware pushing the boundaries, and keeping the suspense at the same time.

Magic Leap is a mysterious start-up from US (not even from Silicon Valley, but suburban Florida) working on a head-mounted display for augmented reality. They have been working on it for six years and collected $1.9 billion (yes, with a B) investment from giants like Google, Alibaba, Qualcomm. Magic Leap filed for 97 patients in one week in 2015.

With all that and only a glimpse on their website, we still do not know much about how it will actually work or when will it appear on the market. The year 2018 will bring more announcements. Until then, a few selected media outlets (The Rolling Stone, Wired) have been welcomed to play and try Magic Leap One.

This might be the future of computing. A new technology that stands to append the way we work, communicate and play. (WIRED)

And according to them, Magic Leap describe their invention as Mixed Reality, as it combines aspects of both virtual and augmented realities. A person with AR goggles on would not see much of a difference between real and digital, virtual objects and data would seem just a part of our surroundings. Here, take a look at Magic Leap’s earlier demo.

3-in-1 AR system

The revealed “creator edition” AR system Magic Leap One consists of 3 parts. And while a body-worn computer and hand controller look practical, those a bit oversized goggles seem like from the Mad Max movie. Anyways, the system reportedly has multiple input modes (voice, gesture, head/eye tracking) and overlays virtual objects for a view. An SDK to develop apps for Magic Leap set for early 2018.

“Lightweight” headset. According to their website, it has a lot of functions: from site mapping, precision tracking, to sounds. Digital light projected by the headset should blend with real light smoothly, not interfering with the physical world perception.

Using sensors and cameras the headset glasses project augmented reality via the lenses. And whatever you see, you can interact with it. Cool, but we will see. The field of view, according to Rolling Stone, “is about the size of a VHS tape held in front of you.”

Lightweight has 4 built-in microphones and 6 external cameras to track position and movement.

“Lightpack” computer. A separate processing unit that powers the headset, though goggles should also do some processing (?). It is shaped like a puck and can be worn on a belt, for example. It is wired to the back of the headset, and all we know vaguely is that it is capable of “high-powered processing and graphics.”

Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz apparently says that the Lightpack is similar in power and graphics to a MacBook Pro or an Alienware gaming PC. And supposedly there will be another computer in the headset. All in all, this sounds a lot like Microsoft HoloLens, while should have a larger field of view.

Controller. It comes with no name and is the main way of interaction with generated augmented reality. The black circular button is a haptic touchpad, providing feedback through vibration, and you may also click on it. Some say it is similar to the controller on HTC Vive. It stands out with a 6DOF (degrees of freedom) controls, while today’s VR headsets offer only 3DOF.

Potential areas of use for Magic Leap One

The ability to see holographic images at various distances would be amazing. The headset should capture beams of light, the direction and the amount of light in a given space. It would allow VR/AR developers and engineers to append virtual objects with a sense of depth in the exciting video.

Is it an exaggeration and how much better it will be than HoloLens or Google Glass? We are not sure yet. Magic Leap promises brand new experiences in areas like every day personal routine, productivity, education, and gaming. The common theme is basically to replace the screens in our lives. Instead of watching a football game on TV, viewing it collectively on a floating jumbotron, or a projection of the solar system in 3D.

Warner Bros and Lucasfilm are partnering with Magic Leap so we can expect something fascinating on that front too. There are also “Digital Live Artists” and “Digital Music Venue” apps patented by the company, so definitely some concert or studio environments are in the works.

[nextpage title=”Augmented reality in EDUCATION”]

The Concept of Virtual Reality and Augmented Realty Even though this technology has continuously been developed at a steady pace, it has just recently drawn growing attention from educators and trainers concerning the possible ways VR could enhance educational practices and outcomes. In the long history of VR development, multiple ways of defining VR have been provided. Some have defined VR in a narrow way by putting the emphasis on the use of a certain technology or device (e.g. headgear, glove). Others, however, criticized this approach because it is a greatly limited perspective without any consideration of interactions or complexities between the user and virtual environments (Fuchs, Moreau, & Guitton, 2011).

Similar to VR technology, augmented reality (AR) is another emerging technology that integrates real life with modified and enhanced images or sound. In the field of AR, images or augmentation and existing reality are harmonized to make further meanings and interactions. This AR is generally achieved by using mobile devices to provide a composite experience or view through digital components and the real world.

AR provides users with enriched experiences, greater engagement, and a powerful capacity to change people’s perceptions of the world. Unlike VR, AR ensures more freedom and an open space learning environment because it usually does not require wearing devices such as a headmounted display (HMD). Application of Virtual Reality and Augmented Realty in Various Fields Understanding the existing VR and AR technology systems in different fields can help provide new insights and future direction of VR/AR uses in adult learning and education.

First used for 4 military and medical purposes, the application of VR and AR expanded to many fields, including commercial and entertainment industries. Military has used AR and VR to overcome the limitations of real training environments. During combat, virtual maps and 360°-view camera-imaging can improve a soldier’s navigation and battlefield perspective. Researchers examined the use of AR in the adaptive tutoring system so that soldiers can do hands-on applications in realistic physical environments. In the medicine and health care field, VR and AR systems help medical practitioners train, diagnose, and treat individuals in numerous situations. For example, VR and AR have been used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes with minimum surgical interventions (McCloy & Stone, 2001). Many companies have begun advertising VR and AR applications in industries such as automotive driving assistance (White, Schmidt, & Golparvar-Fard, 2014). AR allows any type of designer (e.g., car, buildings, etc.) to perform and experience a product’s design and operation before completion. Lynne Murray, head of design and marketing at software developer Holition, also believes that AR allows customers to try on watches and bracelets virtually through virtual mirror software, which helps increase sales and marketing effects (Clawson, 2009). The entertainment industry also embraced VR and AR systems, using them for virtual museums, movies, sports telecasting, amusement park, augmented reality TV, and theatrical performances. AR and VR allow people to engage with the exhibits by wearing virtual reality glasses. Travelers also utilize VR and AR technology to see informational displays in regard to a location, historical events, landscapes, and information provided by previous visitors. AR is also used for game purposes such as Pokémon Go.

Scholars have found that VR-based games can potentially help those aging with a disability by providing task-specific training and physical activities (Miller et al., 2013). Research in the game’s arena influences not just the entertainment field but also different organizations that could benefit from new educational technologies.

Corporate Application Cases of Virtual Reality and Augmented Realty Recently, VR and AR have been recognized as a powerful technology in enhancing employee performance and responsibility within the context of the corporate training and education. Several researchers suggest that the use of VR- and AR-based training can have significant advantages over traditional training methods. For example, the use of AR/VR technologies would present greater access to educational resources and foster group experiences for encouraging communication, competition, and cooperation (Popovici & Marhan, 2008).

Moreover, VR- and AR-based training is believed to facilitate workplace learning which 5 improves employee performance, competency-based skills, and cognitive abilities (Sabine, Bockholt, & Keil, 2011). This approach also serves as a mediator between the virtual world, the real world, and the users, which can allow employees a self-directed learning experience and practice (Chittaro & Ranon, 2007). In this context, many organizations try to adopt VR and AR as a way to train employees in a more immersive learning environment.

Case 1. Walmart is a good example of VR application in workplace learning. The VR training programs, conducted in their nationwide Walmart Academies, focus on training floor managers and workers through various case scenarios, including floor maintenance and holiday rushes. Benefits of the VR training program include acquiring the opportunity to experience in-store scenarios and address customer complaint situations in the virtual environment. Walmart reports that the retention of employees’ knowledge from the VR training was significantly higher compared to those who took the training in a traditional way.

Case 2. Bosch has embarked on a path to train their technicians through an AR mobile facility. In the mobile training facility, employees are provided with virtual information of the inner functioning of a car engine, which is intended to enhance technicians’ knowledge of automotive structure and performance. The training program utilizes a blended approach comprising classroom instruction and the mobile AR training.

Applying AR technology allows changing learning strategies into the blended training, which is facilitating the employee’s reflective thoughts, including how to implement the ideas into their work environments. In this learning environment, employees are able to be involved in a self-directed learning process anywhere and anytime using their electronic devices. Implications of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for Adult Education and Learning As one of the latest technological advancements in the Industry 4.0 era, researchers expect that VR and AR will lead many initiatives to enhance technology embedded learning solutions for adult learners (Hummel, 2017).

The immersive nature of these new technologies facilitates a greater learner involvement, motivation, and absorption through more advance features of the interactive functions of the VR and AR technologies. One good example is that VR and AR provide a way to easily learn complex concepts visually (e.g., molecules at a microscopic scale in VR and 3D environment) (Blaha, 2016). Bye (2016) simply states the radical change of this immersive educational innovation is that “VR has the potential to more fully express and explore the full complexity of the human experience, usher us from the Information Age to the Experiential Age, and catalyse a new renaissance that unlocks the latent potentials of our creativity and imagination” (para 1).

Moreover, Extended Reality (XR) encompassing VR and AR is emerging as well. This reality embraces the whole gamut from 3D objects, 360-degree video, augmented, virtual, to mixed realities (Hackl, 2017). Industry experts claim that XR is now penetrating not only various industry fields such as news media, healthcare, film, and retail, but also educational fields.

Within XR environments, all kinds of realities converge to facilitate a seamless experience of very versatile learning environments and allows prompt switching between the real world and the virtual world for improved learning. Reflecting on this emerging trend of VR, AR, and XR, it is evident that technology-immersive learning methods will be popular in adult education fields (Patterson, 2017). As an implication of encountering the new technological world of VR and AR, we strongly recommend that administrators, faculty, and instructors in adult education fields should pay keen attention to these new immersive technologies and seek effective ways of utilizing them for educating adult learners in various continuing-education settings. For research, scholars should investigate which type of VR/AR and what kind of VR/AR apps are most effective to deliver adult learning programs. Also, researchers should investigate how VR/AR-based learning improves adult learners’ learning competences as the future workforce is in great need of adult employees with high self-learning capabilities to survive in an ever changing technological world.

Augmented reality in education will soon affect the conventional learning process. AR has the potential to change the location and timing of studying, to introduce new and additional ways and methods. Capabilities of Augmented Reality technology may make classes more engaging and information more apprehendable.

Educators know that the learning process should be all about creativity and interaction. While teachers do not necessarily need to recruit all students into science, their goal is to get them interested in a subject. That is where AR could come in handy.

Nowadays 80% of young people own smartphones. Most of them are active smartphone users that use these gadgets to access social platforms, play games and to be in connection with friends and relatives. In the meantime, much lesser part of young adults uses phones for studying purposes, to do the homework, dig information about a subject, etc.

The potential of combining smartphones and Augmented Reality for education is big, though it still has to be fully discovered. AR, in various ways, could grant students extra digital information about any subject, and make complex information easier to understand.

Ability to connect reality and digital content has been steadily improving, opening more options for teachers and students. Nowadays we may find some excellent examples of augmented reality in education worldwide:

Augmented Reality classroom

Augmented reality animated content in classroom lessons could catch students’ attention in our dynamic day and age, as well as motivate them to study.  Adding extra data, e.g. a short bio of a person, fun facts, historical data about sites or events, visual 3D models, would give students a wider understanding of topics.

While doing homework, students may scan certain elements of a book and receive text, audio or video tips from teachers. Or they may find useful information about the course, a teacher or other students which could lead to better communication.

Explain abstract and difficult concepts

AR technology has an ability to render objects that are hard to imagine and turn them into 3D models, thus making it easier to grasp the abstract and difficult content. This is especially good for visual learners and practically anyone to translate theoretical material into a real concept. For example, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria in Portugal integrates AR into math lessons and students report it as helpful, easy and interesting.

Engagement and interaction

By incorporating Augmented Reality into lessons teachers are able to involve students into the process with 3-dimensional models. It may be just a part of the lesson, like a teaser, or the support of the main topic with extra info from a different perspective. Like this case, when a Canadian tech company CASE transformed the wall of the school gym into a ball game by adding Augmented Reality layer to it. Kids throw balls onto a wall to hit floating shapes and so have fun physical exercises.

Discover and learn

Visitors of museums could access AR via smartphones and discover historical content related to objects. Additional information about what they see, though due to space or budget limitations, not all museums and landmarks can afford this. Once AR becomes more available, there will be new great opportunities for museums. The upside is that Augmented reality is already accessible to visitors through mobile devices.

Objects modelling

Manual training, hand exercises, quiz solving etc. help earn a better knowledge of any lesson. AR apps for medical students may be one of the ways to learn human anatomy, explore more deeply. Augmented Reality basically means interaction with 3D models. And you can set the rotation, transparency, colour scheme, styles etc. Finally, there could be more advanced animations via special gadgets like holographic lenses, instead of smartphones.

Training

In many cases, theoretical knowledge is not enough to obtain proper skills in professional areas. Students should not be mere listeners and passive observers. Students of technical faculties especially need practice and hands-on experience in their areas. Through interaction, unlike VR, AR features could help perform a virtual practice – with augmented tutorials, digital modelling, and simulations, and acquire some experience in the end. It is not a secret that motivated and engaged students will understand a subject better and learn faster.

Augmented Reality Education Apps

Augmented reality Apps in education can be divided into 3 categories: the ones specialised for students, the ones for kids, and apps for self-education.

Augmented reality apps for students

Elements 4D (Android / iOS) by DAQRI studio, an app for studying chemistry. It allows combining different elements as the simulation, to see how they would react in reality. To start it special triggers on printed cards are used. On their website, you can find lesson plans suitable for high school, secondary and elementary school programs. You can check how does it work from the following videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C2YM25ja0Y

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beodWECIzpo&feature=emb_rel_end

Anatomy 4D (iOS / Android) is best suitable for medical students. By scanning printed targets the application shows 3D models of a human body and allows to interact with it. Users may change and adjust any part of the human body, learn more about parts, joints, functions etc.

Corinth Micro Anatomy, available for Windows Mobile, is another human anatomy application that may be interesting for medical staff. Or Human Heart 3D app with less content, but more specific – to explore human heart in detail. 3D model of a heart completed with various animations and textual tips about it.

AugThat (Android / iOS), designed by a former teacher, is the application that brings AR in a classroom. AugThat mainly targets students who lack motivation with help of 360-degree virtual photos and multiple 3D experiences.

Augmented Reality apps for kids

Math alive, developed for kids in up to 3rd grades, connect a computer, a camera, and specially printed cards. Pupils under a teacher supervision place cards in front of a camera, practicing basic counting skills.

Animal Alphabet AR Flashcards is a similar AR app but for learning letters, the application brings cards “into life” by showing live animals when the answer is correct (video: Letters alive).

ZooKazam or Bugs 3D. ZooKazam (Android / iOS) in order to teach about animal species offers animated 3D models and various info-graphics about mammals, insects, fish, birds, and reptiles. Bugs 3D (Android) helps kids to know more about insects, placing quests and questions about them and showing descriptions and images to play with.

For fun activities, art and drawing there are Quiver and Chromville. To learn about plants and flora there is Arloon Plants (Android / iOS.). For the smallest kids check out Pete the Cat: School Jam app – it serves “pre-education” goals, like to teach empathy for live beings, as well as creativity.

AR learning & self-education apps

Google Translate (Android / iOS) is just great for studying foreign languages without a dictionary. By using Google Translate special “AR mode” you may instantly check-up unknown words. Works well both for students and tourists, to navigate in cities abroad (check video Google translate vs La Bamba).

Amazing Space Journey, SkyORB 3D, and Star Walk. All of them have one purpose which is to study the skies with all its secrets. Learn more about stars, constellations, planets of the Solar System, galaxies, etc.

Tools/Platforms to create AR content

There is a category of AR apps that is not for educational purposes primarily, but they may serve as a tool to create augmented reality content for various subjects. Check out some of the following (the list is not exhaustive).

Main steps for creation of the Augmented Reality contents:

  • Evaluate your project to determine the proper technology execution
  • Discover methods to plan out your virtual or augmented reality project, from determining your audience to exploring design principles and best practices
  • Learn to create content for your AR projects, from options for capturing the real world to creating 3D models to development tools.

Augment (Android and iOS) with packages suitable for educational purposes in schools and universities. The platform provides options to create 3D models, as well as multiple other useful features.

ZVR, a powerful tool by Zspace that comes with an extensive toolkit to create educational materials. Students equipped with special glasses could interact with AR objects, while there may also be used by engineers and designers.

Daqri Studio, the application to make AR projects and experiences, with examples of education apps like  Anatomy 4D, Elements 4D.

Blippar (Android / iOS) an AR creation tool already used for many educational projects and partnered with different media outlets. It visualizes topics and objects from print material turning it into 3D interactive models.

Aurasma and Layar, two powerful and popular tools to create AR content designed by Layar Creator. Both of them have potential in many areas, not just education. Coming with user-friendly constructors, guides and tutorials, YouTube videos, audio tracks, images, https links, 3D models etc.

Video on How to create an Augmented reality app: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtiUx_szKbI

[nextpage title=”Conclusion”]

Despite the rising use of Augmented Reality in many areas of the modern era, augmented reality in education is still new and unsettled. Though possibilities of AR in teaching/studying are great, providing new ways of learning. Teachers, trainers and adult educators get to catch the attention of students and motivate them better, while students get new tools to visualize their subjects and complex concepts, as well as obtain practical skills.

[nextpage title=”Final Quiz”]

[nextpage title=”Additional resources”]

  • General information on AR:

https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/what-is-augmented-reality/

Mealy, Paul. Virtual & Augmented Reality For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)) (p. 109). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

  • Augmented reality in education:

https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/augmented-reality-education/

https://newprairiepress.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4044&context=aerc

  • Augmented reality in furniture

https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/augmented-reality-furniture/

  • Augmented reality in tourism

https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/augmented-reality-tourism/

  • Augmented reality in retail

https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/augmented-reality-retail/

  • Augmented reality in eCommerce

https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/augmented-reality-ecommerce/

  • Augmented reality in real estate

https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/augmented-reality-real-estate/

  • Augmented reality in medicine and healthcare

https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/augmented-reality-medicine/

  • Augmented reality in jewelry

https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/augmented-reality-jewelry/

  • Augmented reality in sports

https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/augmented-reality-sports/

  • Augmented reality in manufacturing

https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/augmented-reality-manufacturing/