Many people predict the future of books is in technology such as the iPad and other digital readers, often comparing moving printed materials onto digital readers to the movement of transferring recorded music from CDs to mp3s.
But digital readers aren’t the only option in print’s future.
Visual communication designers Marius Hügli and Martin Kovacovsky prove this with their work in augmented reality and will travel from Switzerland to Abilene to present a lecture on the subject as part of ACU Connected Summit’s Track 3: The Future of Books.
Hügli and Kovacovsky began working with augmented reality in late 2009 as part of their studies at the Academy of Design and Art in Basel, Switzerland. The next year, the pair completed Jekyll and Hyde, an augmented reality book based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.
In the demo, the reader places the book under a camera, which then displays the book on a computer screen. As the reader opens the book, music begins to play, and a shadowy figure rides across the onscreen book. Similar reader engagement happens throughout the experience. For example, when people in the book’s printed version lack faces, those faces appear on screen, changing expressions and moving around.
While this augmented reality project was entertainment-based, Hügli said augmented reality has multiple possible applications, including those educationally oriented.
“A lot of themes can be better explained with a movie or a 3-D visualization,” Hügli said, “for example, an educational medicine book, where you have some 3-D visualizations of the body or a cell or anything like that. So the user can look at this 3-D model from every angle he [needs]. Maybe he can even zoom in or out some parts of interest.”
Other education possibilities include combining movies with text in a book and the use of audio in text for activities like learning a new language, Hügli said.
Kenny Jones, associate professor of art and design at ACU is researching the effectiveness of augmented reality in the classroom, and he will present on this topic during the Connected Summit presentation, titled “Putting the Mobile in Mobile Learning.Â Can Augmented Reality Enhance Art Student Learning?”
Jones said he would explore whether augmented reality can significantly increase learning efficiency and retention in students.
The type of augmented reality Jones typically uses is through layering virtual digital content on top of “real life” sites. For example, Jones said certain apps allow users to view digital sculptures on their mobile device that don’t exist in “real life.” Other similar apps allow users to hold their phones to view real life in front of them, but will place digital text on top of the real-life image showing users how to find the nearest coffee shop, hotel or where they parked their car.
In the future, Jones said he would like to see that technology used around campus, especially at Jacobs dream. An app could allow users who don’t know anything about Jacob’s dream to display it on their phone and read text or watch videos about the sculpture.
However, augmented reality comes with some challenges.
“A big question, then, is how the computer/camera/screen get combined with the printed media,” Hügli said. “Is it on the computer with a webcam, or with a mobile device or another solution…”
Despite its new-age flair, an even bigger challenge of augmented reality might be generating user interest.
“It seems to me that AR needs to be accepted,” Kovacovsky said. “Only then will it prove that it is not just a trend. Only then the whole movement will turn from small projects and ad campaigns into a booming market.”
Most augmented reality is used in advertisements, and Hügli said his and Kovacovsky’s goal is to find practical uses for the technology. The pair plans to release an augmented reality project for a museum in Switzerland about Celtic culture by this fall.
Hügli and Kovacovsky will present the lecture, “Jekyll and Hyde: A Book with Augmented Reality,” at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday in McCaleb Conference Room C in the Hunter Welcome Center.