Augmented Reality: What’s In It For Me?

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We’re a few posts in to the Displar Blog and we’ve already seen some pretty cool ways that AR technologies can be employed. Use it to further your education! Take the hassle out of furniture buying! Play a game that’s so immersive you accidentally risk walking into traffic and getting hit by a car – whose driver is probably also playing the same game. Alright!

Great!

Cool.

“Fine,” you may be thinking. “I’m not into gaming, my budget enables me to pick up new home furnishing rarely at best, and my school years, when my biggest achievement was perfecting the baking soda-and-vinegar science project volcano, are behind me.”

“Why should I be personally invested in augmented reality?”

Brendan, here. Allow me to insert myself into your shoes, character-type-I’ve-just-created-for-purposes-of-this-piece. I’m a writer, not only for this blog but for personal and professional projects, both past and present. I’ve been a teacher, an organizer and an entertainer. And like you, I work hard – in all these roles, I’ve needed the tools of my work to be my friends.

I’m a notebook fiend. I’ve always loved the idea and the act of writing in notebooks, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many I’ve bought with the intent of filling them to the brim with notes, scribbles, sketches or whatever, only to be discarded when I got bored.

Similarly, the act of spreading my notes across multiple notebooks and NotePad files is the bane of my existence. I never simply have a notebook on me or my phone always at the ready; I use whatever medium is closest to my hands at the time. As such, I am grossly disorganized.

If there are two things I’ve found useful, they are the Moleskine notebook (the quintessential 2000s hipster accessory you hate to love) and the Evernote app for note-taking and -organizing. A few years back, the two collaborated on the Smart Notebook series which made handwritten notes digitally searchable and manageable through taking photos of pages with the Evernote mobile app. When I can be bothered to use it, it makes sure my notes are everywhere my hands are, ready to be expanded upon.

Imagine with me, if you will, the ways AR could improve and expand upon this function. Those who are visual, spatial, and kinesthetic thinkers could extend their notebook from the page to the place, creating device-accessible notes attached to physical places, effectively making libraries out of routine destinations such as libraries, coffee shops, or train stations – anywhere. Groups of people, doing the same thing, could create searchable databases of thoughts, giving meeting spaces and travel destinations alike an information-loaded enhancement for innumerable uses. No such prototype exists as of yet, but because of different types of research being done on the idea, it’s sure to manifest itself in the coming years.

What about completed books, such as textbooks? Sure, these already have a digital component, but the only people I’ve ever known to use them are those trying to avoid buying the expensive physical versions and save money for beer. As a teacher always wishing to to give his students the best possible learning experience, I always wished I had access to more information without reaching for my phone and wasting precious class time.

Textbooks with a supplementary AR layer would enable publishers not only to embed videos, 3D models, holograms and other dynamic content into pages, but to alert students to real-world examples of textbook ideas when they are happened upon. Such a tool could radically alter the perception of nature, bookstores, and social functions by providing us supplementary information. For example, a student studying cloud formations would be aided by an AR textbook with camera input or, even better, received data from meteorological organizations about up-to-date weather conditions.

Augmented reality also opens up the possibility to gamify learning given its inherent interactive capabilities. Egyptian startup Livit Studios, creator of the textbook in the above video, is one of the first publishers to attempt an interactive textbook, with its successful Kickstarter allowing this proof of concept to be released into the world.

Writing, whether it’s for teaching purposes or for this blog, is a part of my everyday life. Augmented reality is not an end product in itself, but a tool that our chosen professions will doubtlessly make use of, and I can see how it will play into my work in the future. As time goes on, it is becoming obvious that AR technologies will integrate themselves into our pursuits at every stage of life, and that’s why you should invest in it and start taking it seriously.

And you, the reader – what is your profession? Can you foresee a use for augmented reality technology in your day to day life? Alternately, what bane of your existence could be made better using AR? This is not only an important conversation to have, but a fun one as well. Let us know in the comments section!