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Augmented Reality and Next Generation Libraries

A panel of 3 librarians described augmented reality (AR) and provided some demonstrations of applications of it in libraries.

Nathan Flinchum

Nathan Flinchum

Nathan Flinchum manages the Virginia room at the Roanoke Public Library, which has a genealogy collection of over 12,000 historical photographs of early Roanoke, as well as other historical photo collections. The library wanted to make these photos more accessible to people and put them out into the community where they were taken. They are using AR to do this and telling stories about the buildings, etc. Accessibility, discovery, and context are the major techniques used in this project, which is seeding Roanoke with historical imagery.  People now have a chance to see their neighborhood as it used to be.

Tools used include:

  • Aurasma, in which a trigger image makes an “aura”, or an overlay image. They have worked with libraries, and images are ad-free. Users can download a living history app that uses Aurasma.
  • WhereamIat, which gives latitude and longitude for a location

It is important to be aware that cellular location ability is not great; Aurasma’s geolocation features are better) and conditions for image recognition are poor. Aurasma must identify the trigger image to be able to put in the overlay. Images may work during the day but may not work during the evening. There is usually no problem with print because lighting conditions are good, there are no shadows etc. Despite these cautions, do this anyway.  Historical collections can move outside; armchair historians are drawn in when images are pushed out to them; and it’s cool! This is a good way to attract people to what may be regarded as a dry collection of historical photos.

Here are some tips for overcoming the challenges:

  • Provide devices that have been proven to work well. Loan them to users if possible.
  • Provide alternative viewing options such as Google Maps or Photoshopped images to create same or similar effects, as well as in-library displays.
  • Stay indoors if you are using wi-fi to make sure the technology will work.

History is all around you if you want it. Maintain a “home base” (physical library) for support which will be needed for a long time.

Michelle Liu

Michelle Liu

Mason Yang

Mason Yang

Michelle Liu and Mason Yang from Marymount University defined AR and how it can be used.  AR is a combination of the real scene viewed by the user and a virtual scene generated by the computer that augments the scene with additional information.  The augmentation can take a variety of forms.  Typical AR research focuses on live video imagery which is digitally process and “augmented” by the addition of computer-generated graphics. Here are the goals of AR.

Goals of AR

Goals of AR

 

Today’s students don’t want to go to the library. What can we do to encourage them to use the library to do their research? Technology impacts every area of our lives, especially for students who are digital natives who are always multitasking with their devices. They take their devices everywhere and learn through interactions and collaborations.

Applications of AR can be found in many areas such as medical, entertainment, military training, engineering design, robotics, consumer design, marketing, and education.  Some AR apps include Wikitude, Google Goggles, and Google Sky Map.  Many applications involve QR codes, which are especially useful in libraries, as shown here:

Use of QR Codes in AR

Use of QR Codes in AR

 

For example, one could scan QR codes to get calendar, library maps, etc., or put up a flyer in the hall with a QR Code and then you don’t have to change the flyer when something changes–just change the code behind the code.

Don Hawkins
CIL 2014 Blogger and Blog Coordinator
Editor, Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage

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