Where Can Augmented Reality Take Education?

Lisa Yeaton Specialist, Content Marketing Published 10 Aug 2016

Augmented reality is an overlay of information onto the real-world through a smart phone, tablet, special glasses or a head-mounted display. The Pokémon Go craze created a belief that augmented reality is a new idea, however, it’s actually been around for years, going back to the 1950s.

Augmented reality (AR) isn’t just a visual effect, it can apply to any or all of your senses. Applications for the technology are endless; it can be used in gaming, communications, research, training, education, and more.  There are mobile apps that transform the head-mounted display into a looking glass or a sensory device. Some apps, similar to Pokémon Go, project augmented objects onto the real world through a phone’s camera. Other applications translate foreign signs or describe everything about the building that your phone is aimed at. New AR headsets are being developed, including Meta 2, Microsoft HoloLens, zSpace, and Magic Leap. When Google Glass was originally released, it was met with wide criticism and Google has since stopped selling the Glass, but is considering releasing a new version in the future.

Whether or not the augmentation is occurring on a device or a headset, the idea of being able to look at a historic building and have all of its information pop up on screen or communicate via hologram sounds like something out of a movie! In Iron Man, Tony Stark brings to life the idea of being able to communicate with a machine and to use technology to his advantage through the futuristic idea of augmented reality. However, that idea is no longer futuristic, AR is present and soon the technology is going to become widely used and recognized.

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The industry opportunities for AR technology is high in the gaming, training, and education markets. Augmented reality games have the opportunity to take over the gaming market. I myself haven’t played video games in many years, but the idea of having a full body experience with a game is intriguing and sounds incredible to me. I imagine the possibility of becoming a part of one of my favorite movies; like getting the chance to be a Ghostbuster catching ghosts around the globe or being able to hold a 3-D light saber from Star Wars and battle the Sith is extremely enticing and playing games similar to this would be incredibly fun. Of course these are just ideas right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if apps with these ideas are developed and released as soon as the market for AR gaming expands.

Certain careers require more advanced training than others. Augmented reality applications would allow trainees to have personalized training for their careers. Surgical students could use an augmented reality headset to touch a 3-D body and practice surgery; this would lead to more prepared doctors who are able to learn, practice, and study constantly, even from their own homes with personalized AR technology. Criminal justice students or law enforcement officers could have a more enhanced learning experience with a sensory device that affects their sound, sight, smell, and touch. I’m not knocking on Police Academy simulators here, but this could really enhance an individual’s training and learning experience. Again the opportunity for students to use these devices for practice when they are not in class is a great benefit.

In primary and secondary education AR can enhance students’ understanding of historical events in social studies class.  Augmented reality enables students to experience the smell, sound, and visuals of people living during different eras. This can trigger more sensors in the students’ brains to enhance their understanding and memory; they not only see the images, but also feel them through other senses such as hearing and smelling. In science, students no longer have to dissect frogs, they can look through a headset and use their hands to complete the assignment with a virtual frog. Teachers can show entire classes on a larger scale by expanding the size of the body so that everyone can see the demonstration. The same applies in higher education, but with different subjects.

Augmented reality has the power to greatly enhance education. When this technology is utilized in the classroom it assists students in strengthening their memorization and comprehension of information through not one but several of their senses. The technology saves time and money, allowing schools to cut down on expenses. Science classes involving large experiments can use virtual 3D projects so the school doesn’t waste time and money on expensive supplies and cleaning. Augmented reality provides a new approach to learning and studying. Instead of reading text books, students can view content through their headsets where pictures and study notes pop off the page. Studying, learning, and teaching all become more interactive, engaging, and effective with augmented reality technology.

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