Augmented Reality in education

According to recent research, whether it’s smartphones, tablets, laptops or TV, 90% of all media interactions today are screen based.  As a creative agency it’s our job to make sure that our clients make the most of this fundamental shift in the way we access information and knowledge.

Augmented Reality (AR) is one technology which taps into our screen-dominated lives and, whilst it’s not always possible to accurately predict future trends, we’re confident that AR will be embedded into our everyday lives just like the internet, email and mobiles are today.  At Engine Creative we’ve led the way in delivering innovative and effective AR solutions for our clients in the publishing and retail sectors over the past 2 years and yet it’s only in the last 6 months that we’ve been able to take this knowledge into the education sector.

Working with the forward-thinking educators at Shelfield Community Academy, an independent state funded secondary school in Birmingham, we’ve created and delivered a unique AR experience for students to help them explore the science behind forensic investigations.  Students use their mobile or tablet devices and take the role of senior investigators to solve an artwork theft in their school.

Using Augmented Reality technology embedded into a bespoke Shelfield AR App (free to download on the App Store and on Google Play), students are able to unlock the secure briefcase containing the case files, discover hidden fingerprints and analyse complex scientific graphs.  Once they have collated all of the information, students are then able to submit their evidence through the App.  The whole AR experience takes the idea of integrating technology into the classroom (and beyond) to a new level and the results have been impressive.

The educational experience is defined by the quality of the content and the ability to create rich AR experiences is improving all of the time.  We’re currently developing interactive games and replicating photorealistic 3D captured objects and attaching them to real world objects.

As well as using innovative AR techniques to enhance the learning experience for students, we’ve also just launched our first Augmented Reality App for the HE sector.  The University of Northampton App, UN+, is free to download on the App Store and on Google Play and allows users to access additional content through the printed prospectus.  This solution turns a printed piece of communication into an engaging multi-screen experience which is both interactive and measurable in terms of tracking user activity.  The App will also become the foundation for future augmented content throughout the university where in-depth information and richer experiences can be triggered by magazines, adverts, objects, products and locations.

The fundamental shift in the way we access information and knowledge tells us a lot about our evolving relationship with technology and our new digital world.  At Engine Creative, we believe that Augmented Reality will be as integral to our communications as the web in the very near future and that take up of AR will be rapid.  We are already using the delivery infrastructure (mobile and tablet devices) and smartphones are quickly becoming ubiquitous in the UK with over half of the population expected to be using them by 2015.

Future learners of all ages and backgrounds will expect the everyday technologies they love to be embedded into their education and AR will be just one way of ensuring that individuals and organisations in the education sector stay switched on to their needs.  Google Glass is just the beginning…

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