Augmented Reality or AR has been around for decades. First used by Boeing engineers some 30 years ago to understand complex wiring diagrams, AR is now being employed by more and more businesses to put the learner or client in the driver’s seat.
Briefly, Augmented Reality differs from Virtual Reality because it overlays visual imagery on real objects in real time. Virtual Reality (VR) completely immerses the user in an artificial world.
Examples of AR as a sales-support tool abound. In retail, a giant European cosmetics company has equipped its sales team with AR software that allows them to demonstrate in 3-D how kiosks would look in a beauty salon. The same AR technology is used by a very big soft drink company to position AR coolers in real life spaces to give prospects a view of what they would look like.
In these two examples, Augmented Reality becomes a kind of 3-D clothing rack where you try something on for size and see if it fits.
AR can also be used in self-directed onboarding. Download an app, point a smart phone at a poster of the CEO and it launches a video greeting and a little welcome speech. There are other posters in the office that do the same for different bits of information to complete your onboarding.
Billboard, bus shelters, and storefront advertisers have also employed AR to make their flat, two-dimensional ads come to life.
AR clearly has made a home in the world of business.
What about in the eLearning space? Will AR augment your training? If you are just starting out with AR, the pros suggest you embed interactive AR materials inside your content, unless you are mapping a highly specific physical environment where learners have to understand complex relationships, like the cockpit of an aircraft.
A researcher in Germany did a survey of the use of AR in eLearning environments. She found numerous examples, where AR brought a subject to life including a butterfly ecological learning system, enhanced English language teaching software, logical mathematical skills, and a history course in Spain.
In Barcelona, an exhibit of the works of Antoni Gaudí gave museum goers a chance to put you in the master’s workshop when his masterpiece, Sagrada Familia, was being built. It added that extra dimension to the learning experience–the wow factor.