Thursday, April 05, 2012

Augmented Reality and Libraries

In the movie The Terminator, the viewer is taken frequently to the Terminator's point-of view. We know this is Terminator's POV because there is image digitization and the people he is chasing are more luminous than objects in the foreground and background.

In the margins of the viewpoint there are scrolling columns of characters, including numbers and acronyms. The data changes so rapidly that it leaves no doubt that we are viewing the world as the Terminator does.

Science fiction? Well, yes. However, parts of the Terminator's POV are no longer sci-fi.

Augmented reality (AR) is the application of computer-generated imagery embedded into live-video streams as a way to expand information as it relates to the real-world. Through the use of AR technology, information about a user's surrounding environment, and the objects within it, are stored and then retrieved as an information layer on top of a live real world view.

The technology behind AR requires a camera, a target, and software which renders contextual data, images, or 3D animations on top of the live image. The target could consist of a graphic or a physical object.

Google's recent announcement of their Google Glasses prototype is another step in the development of applied AR:


As far as using AR technology in libraries, Ken Fujiuchi proposes possible uses:
"When someone finds a book in the library catalog, they can have the option to snap a QR code or unique image of the book, which will first store the information about the book. Then the user can first be directed to a specific section of the library, and once they are in the right section they can use a mobile device to scan the book spines to start being guided towards the book they are looking for."
Helene Blowers paints this scenario:
"When I shift my thinking about AR apps to the physical library space I see our whole collection opening up before our eyeballs. Imagine the ability to walk down an aisle and see the reviews and popularity of an entire shelf titles just by pointing the camera lens on your phone at the spines (or outfacing covers)."
Bo Brinkman, associate professor at  at Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies at Miami University (OH) has created a prototype augmented reality shelf reading application:

As is the case with many emerging technologies there are many competing standards and a marker created for one application is not viewable using another. String Labs makes both a reader and test targets available to experiment with the technology. One can also play with creating AR experiences using applications such as Aurasma Lite for the iOS.

Here are some other possible uses for AR, with the assumption every information source and device is networked:

- Scan a building to find out if study rooms are available
- Scan a building to identify hours of service, or which librarians are on duty. Touch screen to contact (text, IM, etc.)
- 3-D images of special collection artifacts are viewable from a QR code or bibliographic record
- Physical exhibits and artwork can provide supplemental content and materials

Do you have any ideas?


Educause: 7 things you should know about Augmented Reality
How Stuff Works: Augmented Reality Sphere: Related Content