Is mobile AR appropriate?
In most instances, end-users such as students, scholars, and members of the general public, are increasingly expectant that their mobile devices will work with any kind of technology. To that end, a project such as SCARLET maintained that the app had to work effectively with a variety of devices. Particularly when working in closed environments, such as Special Collections, or within a museum setting, you want to make sure that individuals can move around and access content easily with something like an iPad, tablet, or smartphone.
One drawback would be the use of those unsightly QR codes; however, Matt Ramirez found a way around that, so that the physical space within the Library would not be affected. Instead of using a QR code, the SCARLET app used pictures of the primary resources themselves: an image of the Dante editions, of the fragment of the Gospel of John, and the Milton texts. The triggers may not have been the “things themselves” but they were much closer than the anonymous codes, and students using them had an idea of what they were looking at prior to using the app.
So, if your project is using a somewhat confined or protected space, where desktop or laptops cannot easily be used, a mobile AR app is certainly something to work toward. Even if those restrictions are not the case, understanding that there will be those expectations is important. One scholar has suggested that the laptop has about three more left, afterwhich most software and applications will be designed specifically for phones.
What are the benefits of AR?
- It different and currently cutting edge, with the Horizon Report (2010) suggesting that it is a technology whose growth we need to watch over the next three years. Although the novelty factor is not key when developing a project like SCARLET, HE institutions are quick to note its impact in areas such as marketing and gaming – all of which can highlight the reputations of other kinds of institutions and organisations.
- It is easily adaptable. Individual users can contribute content once it is developed once the framework has been determined. We specifically used a framework which was open source, which also means others can continue to develop it, so the benefits are truly collaborative.
- The resources can be easily shared. Because there is a certain awe will around the technology’s applications, users generally want to talk about their experiences and share their work. The fact that AR is adaptable and scaleable will only contribute to this.
- Content is king! – Although academics at the University of Manchester identified and developed the content for the project, in other kinds of project, developers may not have the luxury of such an advanced base. Augmented Reality apps, however, give users the ability to create content that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to create themselves.
- The app is interactive which maintains the interest, the sharing, and the continued development, particularly if you use open source frameworks and an open API, as we did. As the Horizon Report suggested, it is envisioned that continued development of AR in a range of areas will be fast and furious, with new mobile technology features being offered on a much larger scale. Given that it is quickly becoming an essential facet of many digital public relations and marketing campaigns, as well as serving the education sector, Augmented Reality certainly has as its largest benefit a built-in impact measure, namely that it works and people are aware and excited about it.