Augmented reality also commonly abbreviated “AR” can be defined as the virtual overlay of content (images, animations, video, game …) to a real-world environment. Unlike virtual reality which serves more the entertainment industry, augmented reality is mainly developed for experimental and professional purposes notably in the education sector. AR can serve various type of products with immediate impact on its user experience resulting in very strong engagement and affinity.
Companies have understood the stakes of this technology very quickly and sought ownership of it. However, technological barriers have long limited its use in the past as it was necessary to operate from computers or other bulky devices. Nowadays, this innovative technology is booming notably thanks to major actors that make it more accessible to a wider audience. Using AR today can be as simply as open an app, point your iPhone or iPad camera to a specific item and trigger the associated animation for you to experience another perception of reality and all that from the convenience of your device.
Since iOS11, Apple has continued developing its “ARKit”, a toolkit that facilitates and encourage apps developers to create AR applications for users to shop, learn and play games. Today the App Store has over 3,000 AR apps available for iPhone, iPad and recently iPod and is a market that is still expected to grow further.
The education sector is one of the most impacted by augmented reality with important positive changes in learning and skills acquisition. Indeed, the practical and visionary aspect of this technology allows a more comprehensive understanding especially in turning abstracts things into concrete visual concepts. it allows users, specifically students, to observe an object or phenomenon in all its forms and from the angle which seems more interesting for them. In addition, learning with AR technologies is much faster because students involvements and motivation are increased and memory strongly stimulated. In fact, studies have shown that AR as an educational tool, not only significantly increases the amount of information stored by its users, but it also stores it in their long-term memory.
There’s no doubt that the rapid growth of technologies in education has changed the conventional way of going to school and empowered teachers and students to reach new heights within the education industry. Whether you’re looking to train your mind, get organized with homework, or expand your knowledge base, you’ll find an app to help you complete the task.
Steve Bambury, Head of Digital Learning and Innovation across JESS Dubai school group has seen a lot of new technologies deployed in schools in the past 10 years from iPads to robots to virtual reality headsets. He shares “I first used augmented reality in 2011 when I came across the app HP Reveal (formerly known as Aurasma). Since then I’ve used a wide range of AR tools in classrooms from colouring apps like Quiver to some of the more advanced AR apps that utilise Apple’s ARKit technology like Insight Heart which is basically an expedition to the human heart or BBC Civilisations, an AR app bringing history, art and culture to your doorstep.”
Speaking about apps, Froggipedia for example is a sterling example of how AR technology has moved leaps and bounds. This engaging and interactive learning AR app proposes a virtual dissection of a frog allowing its user to see it from different angles just by turning their iPad around the animal. For those who hated dissection lessons, the Apple Pencil will allow them to deep dive into each organ without dirty hands.
AR app such as Boulevard AR will encourage you to discover a master painting down to the smallest detail without damaging risks and other apps like WWF free rivers will let you witness consequences of global warming without traveling. All this from the convenience and power of your iPhone, iPad or iPod no matter where you are.
Steve, also an Apple distinguished Educator who works with students, parents and school leaders to help them develop their use of education technology describes Dubai, in particular, as a real hub of innovation with strong desire to integrate cutting edge technologies into the education sector. He also highlights the presence of lots of international schools that helps attract some outstanding teachers and educators willing to explore, innovate and accomodate such technologies in their classroom. He further adds “AR was always destined to become more mainstream because it overlaps with the real world. I believe further adoption will come. It’s really about making sure that schools have access to hardware that is up to date enough to run AR applications”.