CAT | augmented reality
Google Glass is the latest augmented reality (AR) technology which has caused a stir in the mobile advertising and marketing sector. Over the past few years augmented reality (AR) has become an integral part of several companies’ advertising and marketing strategies, fulfilling consumer demands for more creative, innovative and interactive methods of engagement. Increasing levels of investment in AR technologies are forecasted over the next few years, with a significant proportion of this investment likely to be for the purpose of advertising and marketing. According to a study by Hidden LTD, currently, almost 20% of AR applications are for the purpose of ‘bringing to life’ online campaigns and an additional 10% of AR applications are aimed at enhancing point of sale material.
The unveiling of plans for Google’s latest venture, Google Glass, has caused a recent resurgence in interest surrounding the possibilities of augmented reality in advertising and marketing strategies. Despite Google releasing statements that ‘there are no plans for advertising on this device’ and that they are more interested in making the hardware available, there have been high levels of speculation surrounding their advertising and marketing. As Greg Stuart, CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association commented, Google Glass could impact marketing in unprecedented ways.
The technology has the potential to revolutionize SOLOMO (Social, local, mobile) marketing. It is predicated that Google Glass will facilitate instantaneous access to information about local businesses when moving through an area. Social features such as Foursquare check-in and the potential for apps similar to the ‘Find Friends Nearby’ app, could allow intensified social interaction and social marketing surrounding local businesses. Google Glass could also facilitate more subtle, social, video marketing, with the potential for consumers to use the device’s video functionality to record short social videos of purchases, experiences and places, which could be shared online instantly. Finally, it is predicted that the technology could also enable increased targeted advertising and marketing, with the potential for tracking of website visits and search data; this could allow different people to interact with different types of promotions or adverts in the same virtual/physical space at the same time. However, it must be noted that there is still high levels of uncertainty as to how much information users will be willing to provide (See here for some of the latest on the Google Glass privacy debate), how wide spread the use of Google Glass will be and the exact form this new technology will take.
Despite uncertainties regarding the Google Glass, it is clear that augmented reality, in general, is beginning to take off as an important tool for generating increased brand engagement. Recently AR has been used in campaigns across a variety of sectors. Notable examples include: Net-A-Porter’s interactive store front, Airwalks’ invisible pop-up store, Mabellines ShowColor nail varnish app, Absolute Vodka’s AbsolutTruths Campaign, the National Geographic AR Installations (one of which is shown in the image below) and, Frauennotruf Munchen’s (A German Charity) domestic abuse AR campaign (see here for examples of more AR campaigns). It is evident that AR technologies are offering new and unique consumer-brand interactions, radically altering the way in which the physical and digital worlds interface. As Christina Austin, in an article for Business Insider, commented ‘AR campaigns resonate with consumers in a way that most other ad platforms fall short’. For this reason we can expect to see AR increasingly becoming an integral part of many companies advertising and marketing strategies, leading ‘us into a new era of active and reactive brand communication and experience’ (Mashable.com).
0 Comments | Posted by naomi in Alternate Reality Games, BETT, Development, Education, Events, MOOC, Personalised learning, Uncategorized, augmented reality, online learning, online university courses
Running from January 30th to February 2nd last week was the 29th Bett show, the British education training and technology event. This year was bigger than ever before and to accommodate the increasing demand Bett moved to the Excel arena which meant our journey involved an exciting trip on the DLR. There was a lot of hype around the event this year with #Bett_show trending throughout the week:
New this year was the Bett Arena, a 750 seat amphitheatre to host talks from influential thought leaders in education from around the world, including Vince Cable and Professor Brain Cox. The education sector was shaken up in 2012 – ‘The year of the MOOC’ – so it was exciting to see two MOOC pioneers also attended the show – Shimon Shocken and Daphne Koller of Coursera.
In the opening ceremony Microsoft’s VP for education Anthony Salcito’s proclaimed that ‘’Technology will always step up to the challenge we need in our classrooms’’, so let’s take a quick look at what stepped up this year:
Innovation was abundant and it was focused around tablets, apps and cloud technologies. As expected, everywhere you turned to look there was an interactive whiteboard and some were showcasing some impressive improvements – SMART were exhibiting their Short Range Projectors which can be mounted only 50cm away from the board, meaning no more blinding lights for teachers. GloView have launched Any Surface IWB which can be used on any wall to turn it into a touch sensitive interactive whiteboard. 3D projectors like 3D Visualisation by Reach Out Interactives Ltd were another exciting development meaning that students can see objects such as a beating heart in 3D, moving it around to view all angles. Augmented reality apps also featured at the show with Samsung showing an app that scanned codes to show 3D objects that could be moved around on a 2D screen.
The range of interactive learning resources on show was incredible and we particularly enjoyed being shown around the Royal Society of Chemistry’s interactive periodic table:
Big this year was the Cloud; looming and ominous, it looks to be supplying programmers and educators with unlimited possibilities. Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 were promoting their cloud based applications. Microsoft Office 365 enables you to run Office applications such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel within your web browser – to launch the program all you need to do is log into a website. Integration with SkyDrive cloud storage and the fact that you don’t need the programs installed on your harddrive to run them means that students can access the programs and their files anywhere.
However, whilst there were lots of impressive technologies on show, this does not always translate straightforwardly into improved learning in the classroom. In November NESTA found that “costly digital technology that has the power to transform education often sits in boxes because teachers do not know how best to use it”. Chief executive Geoff Mulgan said: “The emphasis is too often on shiny hardware rather than how it is to be used.” The technology available offers so many valuable opportunities to educators and students that it cannot afford to be underutilised. The show opened with the message that technology should follow the needs of teaching and this was a theme ran throughout Bett 2013. The slogan “vision before technology” was used by Janet Hayward (Cadoxton Promary School) and Tom Rees (Simon de Senlis Primary School) as they expressed the “need to take an educational perspective as opposed to a technological approach to digital learning by training our best teachers to talk about how it benefits them and their classes’’. This is where Bett becomes all-important; events like TeachMeets allow teachers to share their experiences, favourite resources and to learn from each other. Resources such as Teachers TV, which we were very happy to see in it’s new form at the show, are vital to share knowledge and helping keep teachers up to date and informed. The countless workshops, meetings, breakout sessions and LearnLive talks that Bett facilitates provide a platform to bring together and encourage discussion between the developers, teachers and content providers. Communication on this level is vital to ensure that the exciting technological advances exhibited at the show are used to their full potential and not left clean and shiny in their boxes.
This Christmas will see the 2012 Furby revival. The mechanical fur covered children’s must-have of the late nineties has been revamped and is back for a new generation of children to enjoy. The 2012 re – furbish – ments include LCD screen eyes which are even more disturbing that their slowly blinking predecessors, a more complicated mechanical body for an impressively large array of dance moves and more sensors so it will be even harder to turn off. Furbys remain without an off switch. But the most exciting addition is that the 2012 Furby comes with its own smart phone and tablet app.
You will be able to feed your Furby by virtually flinging food at it via an app – a vast improvement on just putting your finger in its mouth. And at last you can get an app that will translate Furbish. So you can finally understand that “yoo?” means “Why will you not play with me today?” along with the subtext “This usually means the Furby is upset”. This is, of course, only useful if you are too lazy to teach your Furby English.
The return of Furbys may not seem significant and indeed the popularity of the 2012 Furby may prove to be as short lived as its forebearers. But the kind of technology they offer and the uses to which it is employed are unlikely to be a fad.
Smart phone and tablet apps for children are very popular – 75% of parents share their smartphones with their children according to a recent study in the UK. There are thousands of apps specifically designed for children which range from educational games to apps for their favourite Disney character. The combination of an app with a physical – more traditional – toy is the next step in the evolution of children’s entertainment. The simplest way to integrate an app and toy is to create an app that functions as a remote control. For example, you can use your phone or tablet as steering wheel to control toy cars or helicopters. More impressive apps go beyond this, such as the app gun which uses a device’s camera to turn the screen into a view finder; transforming your surroundings into a battle field.
The app enhances the toy and the act of playing with it beyond the physicality of the toy itself and in doing so the app creates an augmented reality. Playing and experimenting is how children learn, so there will inevitably be worries regarding any detrimental effects relating to augmented reality i.e. that children will somehow be unable to function in reality.
Will it confuse children? Will it spoil them? Will it make them lazy? Whether augmented reality and gaming are beneficial to learning is a topic that we discuss regularly in this blog. Augmented reality creates new experiences and new ways to interact with topics and as a result facilitates learning.
Many commentators on news reports favour the ‘in my day we had nothing but imagination’ approach to attacking advances in augmented reality. The danger being that children could be presented with toys so brilliant that they don’t have to use their own imagination to have fun. These commentators forget that augmented reality works with imagination to ignite it not to replace it. Augmented reality involves the suspension of disbelief which requires imagination.
There are augmented reality apps that harness children’s imagination for their own benefit, for example the app that claims to make plasters fun. It aims to take away the fear associated with plasters for the child’s –minimal – health benefit demonstrating the possible constructive applications of this technology.
In 1998, age 8, I had a Furby for Christmas. A year later my sister had a Baby Furby. My main memories of the late nineties Furby craze are children telling horror stories. Terrifying tales of Furbys awakening mysteriously in the middle of the night were swapped around the classroom. Furbys that mysterious moved from across the bedroom through the night. Furbys that kept talking when they had their batteries removed.
Just typing the phrase ‘furbys are’ into google produces the above results indicating my recollections may be part of a wider phenomenon. It is very hard to prevent a child’s imagination from enhancing any toy and I doubt that the toys of the future, including this year’s Furby, will escape any imaginitive improvements.
Even the most casual visitor to the blogosphere will by now have read about Chatroulette, the website which indiscriminately matches strangers with each other and allows them to conduct webcam-assisted conversations. Disconcertingly for anyone writing about Chatroulette, there is no consensus on its relationship with capitalisation and spacing (Chat Roulette? ChatRoulette? Chatroulette? I’ve gone with the latter (obviously)). Created and run by Andrey Ternovskiy, a 17-year-old Russian student from Moscow, the site was estimated to have had 30 million unique users worldwide in February.
Most of the media coverage of Chatroulette – and there has been a lot of media coverage – seems to have focused on what one blogger calls “the masturbatory aspect of Internet expressiveness”. And, sure enough, a cursory visit to the site can be an unsettling experience for those among us whose idea of entertainment is anything other than watching the graphic onanism of a faceless 19-year-old from Wisconsin.
But others have been using the site more creatively. A number of Chatroulette-based games have become popular – while Merton the improv pianist has become, in his own slightly arrogant words, “a cultural phenomenon”. Meanwhile the imaginatively-named Cat Man has used augmented reality to good effect (as one chat partner says, “IT’S VERY NICE”), and one mischievous user has been taking her partner’s video stream, mirroring it back to them and then recording their reaction. Head bopping is the most common response, apparently. Make of that what you will.
The word “random” is bandied around these days with a regularity that if not alarming is certainly irritating, but Chatroulette is a rare worthy recipient of the adjective. And this randomness is the site’s greatest asset and its greatest flaw. The ease with which users can switch from partner to partner and instantly connect to people on the other side of the world is what makes the site appealing. But it also makes it unsafe for children and faintly pointless for adults.
As Larry Magid has pointed out, Chatroulette – or the idea behind it – has great educational potential. Children can speak to people in Afghanistan about their experiences of the War on Terror – or to women in Iran about life there. Israelis can speak to Palestinians. Creatives experimenting with QR codes or iPad software can learn from people in Japan or the US about these technologies. All these things were possible on the web already, of course, but the introduction of a video element brings people closer together – and this is a powerful thing. The draconian authorities in China have yet to ban Chatroulette, so it is providing a rare opportunity for the inhabitants of the world’s most populous nation to speak openly with Westerners directly and in confidence from the comfort of their homes. But as long as the user has no control over their chat partner, such edifying Chatroulette encounters are the exception rather than the rule.
And this leads to the other significant characteristic of Chatroulette conversation: anonymity. If randomness is one pillar of the site, anonymity is the other. There are no logins, no registration process, no name display – and people love it. Nick Bilton believed the success of the site “signals a nascent desire for anonymity online”. I’m not sure Bilton is right to describe this desire for anonymity as nascent – the anonymity provided by online chat rooms has been attracting many users since their 1990s heyday. In this sense, Chatroulette is not the future of the internet, but its past.
Either way, as with its randomness, Chatroulette’s anonymity is a blessing and a curse. The site is unsafe for children and its anonymity means that users tend to behave in ways they might otherwise not – hence the unsavoury scenes from Wisconsin. As Sarita Yardi, a doctoral candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology who studies the role of technology in teenagers’ lives, puts it, “Right now it’s kind of like an online Lord of the Flies.”
Magid suggests the introduction of channels so users can filter chat partners by things like subject matter, language and region. If these changes were implemented, it would no longer be Chatroulette, of course. If each participant in a game of Russian roulette knew which chamber contained the bullet, and chose whether to load that one or not, it would slightly defy the point. And in some ways, allowing users control over their partners would defy the point of Chatroulette. But the idea and the technology could certainly be used for educational purposes. With logins, channels, moderation and supervision, a video chat site could be a great resource to afford people an insight into the lives of others whom they would never encounter otherwise.
Some safeguards have already been put in place by Chatroulette spin-offs like Chatroulette Map, which ties users to their location. RandomDorm is Chatroulette for US college students, and requires them to log in using a verified college email address. But neither harnesses the educational potential of the medium. Until a site can get the security right and the user numbers up, Chatroulette and its various spin-offs will be like so many things on the web: nothing more than a fun way of wasting time. In the words of Cat Man’s chat buddy, it’s very nice – but that’s about it.
Courtesy of blogefl on flickr.com
Just a quick one, but I felt this needed more than a single line in the feed on our homepage. I had an illuminating meeting at the Leading Edge programme at the SSAT this Monday. It’’s rare that you meet someone in such total agreement with you as to what technology can do in the classroom, and I would have walked away sufficiently impressed by that occurrence alone were it not for the little demo I got of the SSAT’’s learn AR tool. You”d think that AR in the classroom would start off as a gimmick but for the most part this stuff goes beyond just allowing students to visualise things more clearly – it allows them to do things they might not otherwise be able to.
Cue a Geiger counter experiment (can”t get a screenshot for love or money) that some schools can”t carry out because they can”t get hold of the right materials: 1 marker for the counter, 1 marker for the radioactive source, and another to represent whatever you””re putting between them to compare the absorption of different materials. Engaging, safe, cheap, magic. Not surprised it was a hit at BETT.
It seems that nowadays every new invention or gadget is set to; “change the way we see the world”. Indeed, “changing the way you see the world” has become the tagline for numerous coaching books and novel technologies alike. A simple google search produces thousands of results showing article after article exploring how facebook, twitter, myspace and the numerous other current internet phenomena’s are changing the way we see the world. I do not doubt for a second that these various websites are changing the way we communicate, socialise, do business and essentially live our day-to-day lives. However, when I wake up in the morning, eat my banana and begin my commute, the world still looks the same. In fact it has done for years, the only thing that changes the way I see the world is the weather and the varying condition of my eyes, depending upon alcohol or pollen consumption. Could that all be about to change? Augmented reality really does change the way we see the world.
Augmented reality (AR) is essentially a view of the real world with a virtual overlay. The current rate of research and development devoted to AR suggests it is going to take off in a big way with astonishing potential across all sectors. If this is the case, it is highly likely that AR will become one of the most influential technological shifts yet experienced by our civilisation.
The potential uses of AR are limitless. Developers have already been working on AR based games, whereby users can actively navigate and interact with various scenarios, using their iPhones. The practical uses of AR are equally as revolutionary; wikitude is a piece of software which uses AR as a platform allowing you to browse the world and discover information about places and points of interest. One of the first augmented apps to go live in the iPhone apple store was acrossair, allowing users to see the nearest stations: what direction they are in relation location, how many kilometers and miles away they are and what tube lines they are on, all by simply loading the app and looking through the camera of your iPhone. Thus it appears that AR technology is giving the user powers that were once exclusively reserved for superhero’s. You can start to understand why so many tech buffs are getting excited about AR.
Whilst the entertainment and practical uses of AR are groundbreaking, its potential in education is just beginning to be explored and might well be the most exciting development yet. British schools are constantly being scrutinised and criticised. One of the greatest obstacles impeding learning in the classroom are those disengaged pupils whose behaviour suffer as a result, which in turn hampers everyone’s learning. If AR could be successfully incorporated into the classroom we might have a solution to the vicious cycle which is preventing successful learning in classrooms. Even our most modern, advanced educational institutions (universities) are frustratingly outmoded in terms of teaching students. True learning is experiential. Humans learn best by doing, not by reading or listening to lectures. The more senses are involved (sound, sight, touch, emotions, etc.), the more powerful the learning experience. That’’s why today’’s best teachers are those pioneering individuals who take the effort to engage their students in meaningful activities that reach students at multiple levels. AR has the very real potential to do this.
Imagine if instead of simply reading about the Battle of Hastings in books, pupils were able to interact with the books and watch the battles. Pupils could interact with 3D shapes in maths, take tours through the human body in biology, learn geography by “flying” around the globe, visiting any city they wished, zooming in and out of detailed renderings of geopolitical regions. Students could learn chemistry by observing, at a simulated microscopic level, chemical structures and reactions. These are but a few of the many potential applications. Augmented reality has the potential to be a very powerful educational tool, which might have a radical impact on the classroom.
Despite the clear benefits AR will have on our day to day lives, it is also necessary to approach the technology with some caution. Augmented reality will essentially mean that the web will become something we carry with us as a constant presence, which is quite a daunting thought. It is almost as though virtual world is being released from its controlled zoo (computers, PDA’s and phones) into the open.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, yet mixing the virtual environment and the real world is something we want to get right. The benefits particularly for the education sector mean that it is a technological advancement certainly worth pursuing but we have to be ready, the question is how prepared can you be when reality is about to change. AR gives the opportunity for commercial organisations to bombard us with advertisements and governments to mould our thinking and actions. If advertisers and governments gain the ability to project anything they want into a person’’s immediate environment and make it seem real, there is no limit to the control that could be exercised over the general public.
Nonetheless it is undoubtedly one of the most exciting technological advancements for decades and it will surely touch all of our lives some way. It may be impossible to prepare for the AR revolution but we should accept that we really are about to see the world in a different way.