What is Augmented Reality?


The term augmented reality (AR) was first coined in 1990 by former Boeing researcher Tom Caudell, who used it to describe ways in which digital information could be overlaid in real time with the visual information we are used to seeing in the real world. (Heads-up displays in aircraft were an early outgrowth of the technology.) While the capability to deliver that sort of augmented reality experience has been around for decades, it has up to recently always required a very expensive customized system, or special equipment. Advances in mobile devices as well as in the different technologies that combine the real world with virtual information have led to augmented reality applications that are as near to hand as any other application on a laptop or a smart phone.

Emerging augmented reality tools to date have begun to overlay marketing, amusement, or location-based information via heads-up displays or real-time video, and new applications continue to appear as the technology becomes more popular. As they have, augmented reality is now poised to enter the mainstream in the consumer sector. Learning applications, such as the ability to overlay information over a video image of an historical site, or an artifact in a museum are not far behind.


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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Augmented reality will obviously enhance the learning experience. At the elem school level students will be able to get much more out of field trips than before.- rob.ackerman rob.ackerman Feb 5, 2010
  • As for many other areas the K12 sector has a huge and important task in making a “didactisation” of the AR-area that have a great potential.
    - claus.gregersen claus.gregersen Feb 7, 2010
  • AR presents a potentially 'game changing' tool for certain established educational practices. The 'field trip' takes on a new dimension when enabled through AR tools, and the opportunity for even normal every day interactions to be informed by 'field trip-type moments' through AR tools on ever present mobile phones offers new opportunities for serendipitous learning. - michael.trucano michael.trucano Feb 8, 2010
  • - Gavin Gavin Feb 8, 2010AR can allow learners to stand in the shoes of others and understand things from others' view points and for role play so perhaps aiding elements of citizenship or even animal behaviour. Possibly also provides learning opportunities for learners to augment their local reality to assist and inform others.


(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I am not sure what is missing (this description is usefully conciseness, and I wouldn't want to add to it), but I disagree with the assertion that " augmented reality has become simple". We are obviously still in the very early days here, and the trend toward interface and authoring complexity will no doubt inhibit growth in this area, as it has done in many others. - michael.trucano michael.trucano Feb 8, 2010
  • If I were forced to cite one thing that is missing, it would be something to the effect that AR has the potentially to radically redefine the nature and utility of 'search' as it is currently and conventionally understood in the education context. Instead of querying by entering something into the search box at Google (for example), now all you have to do is point. - michael.trucano michael.trucano Feb 8, 2010
  • What seems an interesting shift in some of the latest applications is the convergence of 3D, geo-location and mobile devices. - garry.putland garry.putland Feb 9, 2010 This convergence will support and enable better learning opportunities for students with disabilities. - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 9, 2010

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • Combined with location-based serves and geo-tagging, AR offers the possibility for 'location' and 'object' to play new roles in acts of creative expression, as 'interactions' with both 'location' and 'objects' can become opportunities for creative expression in ways they have not been before, since you can now literally 'leave your mark' on a place or thing -- and experience the marks of others. - michael.trucano michael.trucano Feb 8, 2010 this is a very powerful concept for learning too - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 9, 2010
  • - Gavin Gavin Feb 8, 2010Agree that link to geo-tagging is especially important. There are all kinds of opportunity to explore historical settings, to model behaviour of others and to better understand it, and perhaps there is something in that can be explored further in terms of creative art. How about virtual graffiti?
  • Think this could be particularly useful in K-12 areas such as languages, particularly where there are shortages of teachers. - garry.putland garry.putland Feb 9, 2010

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form.