Mlibs event – Augmented Reality for Special Collections

This is part of a series of blog posts based on the sessions held at the Mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event. More resources from the day are available at the event Lanyrd page.

Matt Ramirez

Matt Ramirez

Matt Ramirez (Mimas) gave a presentation during the afternoon breakout sessions on the topic of Augmented Reality for Special Collections. The presentation was based on the work of the JISC-funded Special Collections using Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching (SCARLET) project. The main points from Matt’s session were recorded by flipchart:

  • SCARLET project used Junaio app to create their A.R.
  • Students wanted to be able to interact with A.R. models, rather than just being signposted elsewhere
  • Useful tool for enquiry based learning
  • SCARLET toolkit will be available to use
  • Sketchup good for pre-built 3D models
  • No W3C standards for A.R. browsers
A more detailed overview is below, thanks to Pete Dalton:

Matt presented details of the Special Collections using Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching (SCARLET) Project at the University of Manchester (Mimas) in collaboration with the John Ryland Library.   Through the use of Augmented reality through mobile devices students are able to have more immersive experiences when interacting with rare materials in special collections.  While viewing an object first-hand, AR markers and  spatial triggers provide access to supporting materials through mobile devices to enhance the learning experience.  Through the use of mobile technology the original object is in effect ‘surrounded’ by additional contextual material to enhance the learning experience.

It was reported that to date that the AR functionality had been generally well received by students.  The project had learned lessons about developing such content including not underestimating the time it takes to create the surrounding content and the need to get buy in from all stakeholders. In addition it was clear that AR should be presented as a unique additional experience and not an attempt to simply duplicate other experiences.

It was noted that this was a rapidly developing area and that the project had only begun to scratch the surface of what might be possible in the use of AR.  New possibilities were opening up all the time such as the ability for browsers to visually recognise 3D.

Matt highlighted the forthcoming Augmented Reality toolkit that the project will produce which can help others to harness AR to support teaching and research.

You can find out more about the project (including news about an extension project, SCARLET+) on the SCARLET project blog. You may also be interested in reading the case study the SCARLET team wrote for our community website, and if you have a smartphone you can sample the AR using the SCARLET demonstrator channel.

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