Augmented Reality and Education: Current Projects and the Potential for Classroom Learning

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New Horizons for Learning






New Horizons for Learning

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I still remember vividly my experience with the big purple dinosaur. It didn't look friendly like Barney, though. This dinosaur actually looked like a purple T-rex that was poised and ready to bite me. Of course, this was a virtual dinosaur and existed as a 3D object in 3D space sitting among a very real and familiar environment of desk, chair, and walls. The dinosaur was part of an augmented reality experiment being conducted in the Human Interface Laboratory (HITLab) at the University of Washington. For me it was-and still is-a very interesting experience to see the real world when blended with virtual objects. As an educator, the potential for using this kind of technology for learning is what strikes me the most. Augmented reality as a science and practice has been receiving more and more attention recently as evidenced by articles in mainstream literature (see Feiner's Scientific American article *1) and the growing number of developers attending conferences dedicated to this kind of technology (see ISMAR 2002 *2). The term "augmented reality" (AR) has been used and misused to describe a wide variety of devices and people. But for the developers dedicated to creating and using it, the term is defined as a system of tools that allows a person to view one or more virtual 3D objects in the real-world environment. The virtual objects may be stationary or manipulated, seen on a large flat screen or in a heads-up display. AR technology allows for viewing things in a natural environment that otherwise would be impossible to show, such as labels on parts of an engine or forces on the poles of a magnet *3.

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