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Augmented Reality: A Primer For Libraries

This session in the innovation, risk, & failure track was definitely on innovation.  Augmented reality (AR) seems very futuristic and can hardly be believed, but as we found out, applications of it are currently being developed.

Sarah Houghton-Jan described AR as a 3 layer system:  a cell phone with GPS, camera, accelerometer–where you are, what you are seeing, how fast you are moving.  The central feature is open layers:  combining a digital view of the physical world with digital objects of the virtual world.

AR could include QR Codes to connect a physical storefront with information and reviews about it.  SnapShop lets you take a photo of furniture and overlay it in your physical space and see what it looks like. Another AR application is Wikitude, which connects Wikipedia data with physical spaces.  Layar shows you places distant from where you are.

Cyberspace has leaked into the real world. What was inside the box is outside. This has potential to be useful for all of us, but it may be scary too.  What does it have to do with libraries?  The Univesity of North Carolina has created a historical walk of the campus, as has Ohio State University.  The San Jose Public Library has developed a concept for a Layar-based history walking tours of the city. It will be a mobile site with a locally created app. For example, yearbooks in the collection can be connected with the school, or past versions of present-day buildings can be shown.  These applications could be used as a teaching or history tool, using data that the library has stored in its collections.

Societal consequences of AR include ubiquity of connectivity, openness and transparency, privacy concerns, the danger that people will share less.

(L-R) Sarah, Eric, Jaap

The Shanachies (Erik Boekesteijn and Jaap Van de Geer), well known to Internet Librarian audiences, followed Sarah with videos on AR.  You can see the video clips at This Week in Libraries.


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