10. An Introduction to Augmented Reality

Instructor: Markus Wust (North Carolina State University Libraries)

With the recent release of Virtual Reality (VR) headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive and large financial and intellectual investments in the development of VR experiences in the fields of entertainment, education, manufacturing and medicine, VR has finally begun to fulfill the expectations users had set for the last 20+ years. Until the recent release of the mobile game Pokemon Go, fewer have been aware of Augmented Reality (AR), a related concept that substitutes total immersion into a virtual world for the integration of virtual objects into a physical environment. However, depending on the user's context, AR has several advantages over VR. Compared to the still steep learning curve for developing content for VR systems, tools for AR content creation tend to be simpler, and since devices do not need to render complete virtual environments, the content can run on less powerful hardware. Also, complete immersion may not always be desirable; in cases where real-world objects are meant to be enhanced with digital data in order to provide enhanced in situ learning experiences, AR would be the preferred solution. For example, in previous workshops I taught, several students have used AR to enhance manuscripts and books with images that either brought to light hidden watermarks or showed current views of historic photographs.

This workshop is based on a five-day workshop that I had taught at the University of Victoria's Digital Humanities Summer Institute from 2012 to 2014. It starts with a presentation that introduces students to AR and VR as well as relevant concepts such as Paul Milgram's Virtuality-Reality Continuum. After that, students will be made familiar with different approaches to AR projects, such as print-based vs. location-based AR, and the tools that they can use to implements such projects. The choice of tools will depend on service availability at the time of the workshop; the current plan is to use the two AR browsers Layar and Aurasma. The majority of the workshop (about two days) will be spend on individual or group work on a small AR project; this can be done in the classroom or outside (e.g., to get photographs or to test location-based projects). The workshop will then be capped by an internal show-and-tell and discussion. As part of the workshop, students will also write a short blog entry to document their experience and creative process.