Augmented Reality and Education

Image representing Layar as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Five Dutch content providers participated in the development of worlds first AR (Augmented Reality) browser. There are a variety of developers working in this area currently and it is the new buzz word in tech circles. Augmented Reality is technology that allow the user to point AR equipped devices at objects to see an additional layer of information about the object. We have seen this in the heads-up displays in the helmet view screens of high tech characters like Robo-cop or Iron Man for years. Now portable, processor and GPS equipped, smart phone devices, like those on the Andriod OS, will allow us to experience this first hand.

Of course, the first versions will focus on consumerism. They will allow you to point your phone to spot real estate for sale and enable easier shopping. But, It is easy to understand the educational extensions of this technology. Imagine a lesson where you can take your students on a tour of a old town and when they point their phones on different areas of the town info from a famous book or books written on the area appears for them to read. Imagine taking a tour of New York and being able to point you phone at each building to see the year it was built, architect, building style, materials, or even sections of the blueprints. As an instructional technologist I see it as a ground breaking utilization of GPS and I can go on and on with the ideas.

Here is press release and video of one of the first successful AR projects to launch:
AMSTERDAM, Tuesday June 16th, 2009. Mobile innovation company SPRXmobile launches Layar, worlds first mobile Augmented Reality browser, which displays real time digital information on top of reality (of) in the camera screen of the mobile phone. While looking through the phones camera lens, a user can see houses for sale, popular bars and shops, jobs, healthcare providers and ATMs. The first country to launch Layar is The Netherlands. Launching partners are local market leaders ING (bank), funda (realty website), Hyves (social network), Tempo-team (temp agency) and Zekur.nl (healthcare provider).

How it works
Layar is derived from location based services and works on mobile phones that include a camera, GPS and a compass. Layar is first avaliable for handsets with the Android operating system (the G1 and HTC Magic). It works as follows: Starting up the Layar application automatically activates the camera. The embedded GPS automatically knows the location of the phone and the compass determines in which direction the phone is facing. Each partner provides a set of location coordinates with relevant information which forms a digital layer. By tapping the side of the screen the user easily switches between layers. This makes Layar a new type of browser which combines digital and reality, which offers an augmented view of the world.

Dutch launch
The premier launch is for the Dutch market. Launching content partners are ING (ATMs), Funda (houses for sale), Hyves (social network hot spots) Tempo-team (jobs) and Zekur.nl (healthcare providers). Layar will be launched per country with local content partners in order to guarantee relevent results for the end user. SPRXmobile is planning further roll-outs, together with local partners, in Germany, the UK and the United States this year. SPRXmobile wil continue with regular releases of new layers after each local launch. The Layar application will be available via the Android Market. Other handsets and operating systems are in development with a prime focus on the iPhone 3G S.

SPRXmobile

Layar is developed by SPRXmobile, a mobile innovation company.

“Eventually, the physical and the virtual worlds will become one. Many visions on Augmented Reality have already been developed, but we are proud to be able to bring this one step closer to reality”, says Raimo van der Klein, co-founder of SPRXmobile.

More information:
http://layar.eu en http://www.sprxmobile.com.

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