Seth Godin’s thoughts on the future of augmented reality in libraries

When does augmented reality (AR) move from cutting edge to commonplace? When and how will we see it in libraries?And what does Seth Godin think about the future of augmented reality in libraries? The last question I definitely can’t answer (we will just have to wait for Seth to blog about it I guess), but let me take a shot at the first two.

As cool and exciting as I think AR is, it is important to point out some of the hurdles that need to be addressed before AR can be a regular part of our everyday lives:

1) People need to be educated about AR: Most people don’t know what augmented reality is. But with companies like Nintendo, Microsoft, PepsiCo, and eBay starting to utilize AR, this will most definitely be changing soon.

2) AR experiences still aren’t easy to create: Apps aren’t easy to build.  You need to have some programming skills.  However, projects like Georgia Tech’s Argon are starting to change this.  But even after this hurdle is tackled, there is one still big issue that will need to be addressed…

3) AR experiences aren’t yet completely engaging: With the notable exception of the Nintendo 3DS AR games, I haven’t had a particularly engaging experience with AR yet, especially on my smartphone.  I have played around with Layer and Google Googles, for example, but they were a little clunky and these apps did not compel me to want to use them again after my initial experiences. And is it possible to have a truly engaging and enriching AR experience using my smartphone, or is an accessory like AR glasses needed before augmented reality really takes off? Maybe AR glasses will become an essential accessory for our smartphones and they will connect with it to assist with providing engaging AR experiences. Or maybe the rise of the Tablet PC is what it will take for AR to engage users.

AR in Libraries

So when is augmented reality coming to a library near you? Well, if you live close to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, possibly by the end of this year. If you haven’t already seen this video yet, check out their ShelvAR app:

After watching a video like this, you can truly start to see the potential of AR in libraries.  By utilizing AR markers like Dr. Brinkman and his team have done with the books in the video, instead of indicating whether a book was shelved incorrectly, let’s say that same AR marker on that book triggered a video on your smartphone of a staff member (or maybe even Nancy Pearl) giving a review of the book (as suggested in this School Library Journal article on augmented reality).  Or maybe instead you get a video or list on your phone of other similar books you may enjoy reading with a map to their location within the library (or a link to the ebook).

After seeing a little bit of what is already possible with AR and thinking about how it could be applied to libraries, it is pretty easy to come up with ideas on how we could best use AR in the library environment.  The iLearn Technology site has a nice post here that provides some ideas.  And these are just a starting point.  Really, I see AR having practical and meaningful application to most areas of library service. Don’t you think that there is a place for AR applications in the areas of readers’ advisory, collection development, programming, and reference? Where do you see AR being used in your library? When do you think it will become mainstream?

Below are a couple of websites you might want to follow to stay current with the latest news and trends in augmented reality.  If you know of other good ones, please share them!

Augmented Planet

Augmented Times

Games Alfresco


Photo credit: nilsmengedoht


Read More