Can we Augment the Reality of Mobile Learning?

For the last few weeks I’ve been exploring Augmented Reality (AR)  and how it might aid mobile learning by testing various AR apps available for the iPhone. As is often the case with cutting edge ideas, the potential is much more exciting than the currently possible. (See my take on Google Wave as another example of this phenomenon) Most of the AR I’ve seen so far I’d call more “proof of concept” than really useful.

Many of the iPhone apps available now provide a type of  “walking tour” of an area. You point the camera of your iPhone or Android phone at a point of interest and the app overlays interesting information about the object or place on the screen. The two main problems with this type of AR app at this time are limited points of interest (depending on where you live), or information of questionable interest or value. (Wikitude is a good example of both.)

However, there are a few intriguing examples of what the future may hold. Professor Steven Feiner and his student, Steve Henderson, of Columbia University, have created a prototype of an AR system to help marine mechanics more quickly repair military vehicles.

This example of an Augmented Reality catalog by Metaio suggests exciting ideas for future applications in training. What if a clerk could hold an infrequently used but vital form in front of a camera on his computer and the screen would automatically display information on how to correctly complete and submit it? Or in my household, what if I could hold the remote control for the entertainment system up to the TV and it would present an interactive display on how to set the system to watch a DVD or record a show?

What interesting applications or uses for Augmented Reality in mobile learning have you found?

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