A (really, really) basic primer on Augmented Reality

So, for those who signed on to this blog to follow along with my journey through the PhD program, at GMU, in Writing and Rhetoric (W&R)… I officially kicked things off on Thursday night, in a class on Augmented Reality (AR).

I have a hunch, however, that some folks won’t quite see the tie-in.

What does AR have to do with W&R? Isn’t W&R simply a matter of working toward teaching college students how to write… and to write persuasive works?

Well, that’s part of it, but not all of it.

First, I think I need to give a short definition (overly simplistic, I’m sure) of AR.

It’s taking what we see or hear in our real world and placing a layer (or layers) over it to supplement or enhance that real world.

Still confused?

Consider the following example that comes from Matt Dunleavy and Chris Dede (The Handbook of Research for Educational Communications and Technology):

As the 7th grade life science student passes by an oak tree in her school playground, software leveraging GPS plays a video on her smartphone describing the various habitats and animals that are found near the tree (location-aware). At the end of the video, the student is prompted to point her phone’s video camera at a placard at the base of the tree, which triggers a 3-dimensional model illustrating the anatomical structure of the oak (visionbased).

Alright, that’s one example, but would you like to visualize something with AR? Take a look at this example in which a smart phone serves as the AR tool:

AugmentedRealityhandheldsample

Pretty cool, no?

For those who have followed me in my primary blog, you probably know that I’m not thinking in terms of science, but rather, the delivery of historical content. As ever, history is the content that I seek to electrify (or to understand how it can be electrified… either by simple writing or by more dynamic means such as AR).

O.K., that’s AR in a nutshell… and a very confined nutshell, but I’ll get back to that in a bit. After all, I still haven’t answered the question… “What does AR have to do with W&R?”

Well, I think of it in this sense… and, keep in mind, this is my understanding as of this moment…

The “W” in W&R is loosely defined as “writing”, but I see it more as one who communicates information to others. I know there are some who might challenge me on this, but understand, I realize it’s much more complex than that. Additionally, the “R” in W&R being rhetoric, well… there’s rhetoric at play in anything we put out there to convey meaning, even in images… and, when we’re talking about overlaying information or imagery on reality, we need to consider the rhetoric that is in play. After all, even when one tries to convey objectivity (presenting a neutral view on history, for example), there is an effort in play, whereby the producer of the writing/imagery is still trying to influence/persuade the reader/consumer.

So, that’s my basic primer on AR and where I’m at with this, so far.

One other thing I’d like to leave you with… the AR described in the example above is ground level. It’s like the black and white television era compared with the complex smart televisions that we’re facing as of now… sort of.

If you think the AR example with the 7th grade student was cool, consider this (from a ReadWrite article by Chris Samani):

True AR is several orders of magnitude more complicated than ‘gluing a phone to your face.’ Why? Because true AR is predicated on elegant and accurate optics (which are not there yet), eye tracking (not integrated into any production hardware yet), and sophisticated computer vision, which in turn requires powerful processors, which in turn require better heat dissipation mechanisms and larger batteries. Practical, polished AR is still years away from commercialization.

Wait? You mean there’s more?

You bet. Consider this…

 

Now… consider if you will, what True AR (as opposed to “primitive” AR) might mean to the delivery of historic content…

 

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7 thoughts on “A (really, really) basic primer on Augmented Reality

  1. Interesting! But your comment about history and neutrality confuses me:
    “After all, even when one tries to convey objectivity (presenting a neutral view on history, for example)…”
    I rarely find any reading of history objective. In fact, the readings I like the most are the one that the author indicates up front what his or her frame of reference/bias is in the telling/representation of the history. Am I misunderstanding this statement?

    As I looked at the AR image of the houses on Robinson Street, I immediately thought of how cool a trip to Williamsburg would be w/ my ipad and that AR app. Right?

    Keep up the great blogs!

    Like

    • “But your comment about history and neutrality confuses me… I rarely find any reading of history objective. In fact, the readings I like the most are the one that the author indicates up front what his or her frame of reference/bias is in the telling/representation of the history. Am I misunderstanding this statement?”

      I agree that there are historians out there who reveal their bias (whether openly or as read between the lines). About six months ago, I came across a bio of F.S. Key, and, upon seeing commentary elsewhere by him, he clearly shows disdain for Key. I don’t agree with it as I think it suggests opinions that are unbalanced/lack objectivity. My idea of presenting history is to show the many sides of it. Often, when we see this, we realize it’s much more complex, and bias can suggest an inability to grasp the complexities. If we can provide content that is balanced, I think we force students to consider the many angles, as opposed to presenting bias and suggesting (incorrectly) a monolithic image.

      But, getting back to my original statement… when I wrote what I did, I was thinking about a book that intrigues me, especially approaching content delivery from a rhetorical standpoint, Objectivity is not Neutrality. I haven’t read it yet, but plan on doing so. The JHU site, of course, plugs the book, so I’m equally curious to read the criticisms (who knows, after I read it, I may realize I’m more intrigued in the meaning I find in the title than the explanation I find in the book).

      “As I looked at the AR image of the houses on Robinson Street, I immediately thought of how cool a trip to Williamsburg would be w/ my ipad and that AR app. Right?”

      That’s exactly what I’m thinking! For my final project, I may try (depending on how successful I am with the technology) something with Harper’s Ferry.

      “Keep up the great blogs!”

      Thanks, Elizabeth, and thanks for following!

      Liked by 1 person

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