Monday, March 4, 2013

mARch- What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

I have been wanting for some time to dedicate some posts to augmented reality (AR) and its potential in speech-langauge and other interventions. As you can tell, I also wanted to wait until a month that had "AR" in it, and March is my last opportunity until next JanuARy, so here I go.

First of all, the phrase "augmented reality" is probably quite complicated-sounding and scary, so I will assure you that I will try to make it simple and relevant to your work. We may remember "Virtual Reality" as a similar-sounding technology, in which a person could navigate a digital space, often with the use of masks or other complex gear, like in this silly scene from Disclosure.

So, what we will be talking about is not that. Much simpler.

Essentially, augmented reality is any technology that displays digital information in our real world, usually through a laptop or smartphone camera and with the help of "tags" (i.e. the person walks to a place that has a location-marked geotag, and information is displayed) or markers, kind of like a QR code.  QR and AR are quite related, so if you never saw my series on the usefulness of that technology,  you might want to check it out, as it is likely to give you ideas about how to use AR as well.

AR has been in the news a lot recently because of Google's "Glass" project. Google Glass is a new mobile device being piloted that functions like a smartphone to give you all kinds of information through a set of glasses (email subscribers, be sure to click through to the post to see the 2 video examples):

Believe me, I am not rushing to embrace this, either. I feel like I have enough information in my daily life without flooding my vision with it.  Others have mentioned the potential pitfalls of this technology. Plus, you look like a tool wearing those things.

And that is not what we are talking about either. Instead, this month will cover a few simple apps that you can use on the iPad in order to provide context, visual support, and engagement for our students. For a great example of what is really easily done with this technology in an educational (or clinical setting), I am going to share one other video. This one has to do with the free and easy-to-use Aurasma (for iPod, iPhone, iPad 2 and up, and Android) app that will be the focus of the next few posts.

So, it's food for thought, isn't it? What can kids do, with your support, with this extra "layer" of information in their environment? More coming soon in mARch.

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