SEFLIN 2011: America Runs on Mobile

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend and present two breakout sessions at the SEFLIN 2011 Bridges to Technology Conference. It was nice to get a chance to see old friends, meet new people, see a great keynote presentation by Maurice Coleman, and exchange ideas with a excellent group of individuals. I had a wonderful time!

I’d like to say thank you once again to SEFLIN for inviting us to present at the conference. And a special thank you to my former MDPLS colleague and SEFLIN member Julio Granda for all his help with making sure everything went smoothly during each breakout session. Here are the presentation slides:

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“Talking Walls, Augmented Realities and Children’s Services” at NELA 2011 ITS Spring Event

Last Friday, I had the honor and privilege of co-presenting with my brilliant and amazing colleague Bonnie Roalsen at the 2011 Information Technology Section Spring Event of the New England Library Association.  The topic of the day was “Mobilize your patrons: library services in a hand-held world” and I thought the event was fantastic.  The day provided a terrific overview of various mobile services and some ideas on how libraries can better serve their “hand-held” patrons, including real examples that libraries can implement today. Links to all of the presentations can be found here, and I highly recommend checking them out.

Bonnie and I were part of an afternoon panel and discussion with Brian Herzog, the Swiss Army Librarian, and Christine Drew.  Our presentation was “Talking Walls, Augmented Realities and Children’s Services”, which covered how libraries can use QR codes to extend library services and programs, engage communities, and construct mobile knowledge networks.  We also touched a bit on augmented reality and some cool ways on how it can be implemented into library services.  Check it out below:

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Buh bye library card, hello smartphone? (or, how NFC might replace everything in your wallet)

Maybe it won't matter if patrons forget their library card at home...as long as they remember their smartphone!

Have you heard of NFC? And no, I don’t mean the National Football Conference.  I am talking about Near field communication.  The Google Wallet FAQ (more on Google Wallet in a second) defines NFC as “a wireless technology that enables data transmission between two objects when they are brought within a few inches of each other. Smartphones enabled with NFC technology can exchange data with other NFC enabled devices or read information from smart tags embedded in posters, stickers, and other products.”  NFC is a subset of RFID, but NFC only works between objects no more than 4 inches from each other and it is used when security is needed. Smartphones enabled with NFC are already being used in Japan and Korea by people to purchase subway tickets, check in for flights, and get snacks from vending machines. It is starting to look like NFC might actually take off in the United States now as well.  Why? Well, not only are more and more NFC smartphones being released all the time (even the next iPhone may have it…stay tuned), but also Google introduced Google Wallet late last week.

Google Wallet is “an Android app that makes your phone your wallet. It stores virtual versions of your existing plastic cards on your phone. Simply tap your phone to pay and redeem offers using near field communication, or NFC.” And this is more than just another way for people to buy stuff.  Google Wallet “will be able to do more than a regular wallet ever could, like storing thousands of payment cards and Google Offers but without the bulk. Eventually your loyalty cards, gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets, even your keys will be seamlessly synced to your Google Wallet. And every offer and loyalty point will be redeemed automatically with a single tap via NFC.”  With partners like Citi, Sprint, and MasterCard, and merchants like Subway, Macy’s, and Walgreens signed on to participate, it does look like Google Wallet (and/or future competitor apps) is destined to replace our old physical wallet. “Whoa, not so fast Ryan! Are you crazy!? What about security? This NFC replacing your wallet is crazy talk!” Maybe not. A four digit PIN is required to use Google Wallet, and if a user’s phone is stolen, a PIN is needed to access a user’s financial data on a separate, secure chip…if that chip is physically tampered with, it self-destructs.  Compare that to a credit card…if my wallet is stolen, there is no PIN or self-destruct to protect my money! And, as Google points out, ten years ago, 70% of all individuals were afraid to buy stuff online, and now, over 70% of all individuals access their credit card information online.

No self-destruct built into this card if it gets stolen.

Libraries should definitely be paying attention to apps like Google Wallet that utilize NFC technology.  Before long, many of our patrons may begin to abandon their wallets for their NFC enabled smartphones and expect to be able to use them at libraries like they can at the Walgreens or Subway across the street.  Hopefully, their libraries will be “yes” libraries that allow their users to store their library card in their smartphone wallet.  Libraries already have some experience with apps like Key Ring that allow smartphone users to store a virtual library card on their smartphone.  The good news about apps like Google Wallet (that use NFC) is that patron’s information will be much more secure and there is less of a chance of someone fraudulently using a patron’s library card compared to an app like Key Ring.  And there are some potentially cool uses for NFC in libraries beyond replacing library cards.   For example, perhaps patrons could tap a kiosk in the library with their smartphone to receive book recommendations based on their interests? Or maybe patrons could use their smartphone to quickly and easily check out books? What do you think? What is your opinion of NFC? What do you think of Google Wallet? When will we be seeing the use of NFC technology within libraries? How do you think it will be used in libraries?

Photo credits: Tom Purves and liewcf

sildenafil it briefly afterwards and I don't just come below to put a purchase, I discover a great deal out of this source.

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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

 

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Augmented Reality (AR) Week 2011!

Well, it isn’t really Augmented Reality Week, but it should be.  Starting this Tuesday, the second annual Augmented Reality Event (ARE 2011) will kick off in Santa Clara, CA.  I wish I was able to attend, but alas, I am not.  However, I am going to dedicate my posts this week to the topic of augmented reality and how we might be using this technology in libraries very soon.

Augmented reality has been on my mind because my library is adding the Nintendo 3DS to our collection (I guess this is our way of celebrating AR Week), and it is an amazing device.  I had heard a lot of buzz about this device and its new augmented reality video games, but I didn’t think it would be as cool as it is.  Video gaming is just getting better and better.  First the Nintendo Wii introduced motion control gaming, then Microsoft kicked it up a notch with the Kinect, and now we have 3D and augmented reality gaming with the Nintendo 3DS. Check out the video below to give you an idea of what the experience is like (is a dragon really coming out of that table!?), even though the video really doesn’t do the experience justice:

I think we can agree that augmented reality is pretty cool.  But perhaps you are wondering, “How exactly does this technology apply to libraries?” And maybe you still aren’t very clear on what augmented reality truly means.  Let’s take a look at the basics of augmented reality (which is known as AR for short).

What is augmented reality (AR)?

Let’s say you are a vegetarian on vacation in Costa Rica.  Looking over the menu that is completely in Spanish, you realize that you really should have been paying more attention in high school Spanish class!  But then you remember you have the Word Lens app on your iPhone.  You point your iPhone camera on the menu and within seconds, you can see the menu in English.  Now you won’t have to rely on your limited Spanish food vocabulary and just settle for french fries after all!  This, my friends, is augmented reality.

I think the clearest definition of AR I have found was provided by Meredith Farkas.  On her American Libraries Technology In Practice blog , she defines AR as “superimposing content (data, 3D images, photographs, etc.) over what you’re looking at. Unlike virtual reality, which displays a virtual environment, you see the real world with augmented reality—but with computer-generated content layered on top.” Augmented reality has been around for a long time (for example, that yellow line on the TV screen that marks how far down the field an American football team needs to go to get a first down has been around since 1998), but now the conditions are perfect for the technology to take off in a big way.  Why? Because of my favorite device, the smartphone of course!

As explained in this Technology Review article , today’s smartphones have powerful CPUs, graphics processing units, advanced phone cameras, amazing screen resolutions, and the necessary components (accelerometers, gyroscopes, and compasses) for detecting their locations and orientations.  In addition, wireless data networks are becoming faster and available across the country.  All of this makes AR apps like Word Lens, Google Googles, Layer, and  junaio possible today.  With the amazing smartphone, by the end of the year over half of all cell phone owners in this country will have the tool they need to enhance their lives through augmented reality right in their pocket.

According to the May/June 2010 issue of Technology Review, Word Lens on an iPhone 4 can redraw Spanish to English (or English to Spanish) up to 10 times per second!

How can we use augmented realities in libraries? Will patrons be able to use an AR app on their smartphones to find the gardening section in the library, or even to get recommendations for new books they might enjoy reading? On Thursday, we’ll take a look on how libraries might be utilizing augmented reality in the near future and a few of the challenges that have to be addressed before AR can go from cutting edge to commonplace.

Photo credit: Robin M. Ashford

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Four smart ideas for serving smartphone users

As I discussed last Friday, the vast majority of our patrons will own smartphones very soon.  How can libraries serve our rapidly growing smartphone user population? Here are four “smart” ideas (get it?):

1) Say yes to cell phones!

I love “Yes Libraries”, and really this is how all libraries should be if they want to provide the best possible customer service and experience to their users.  So, in order to make sure you are saying yes to your patrons, make sure that you are allowing users to actually use their cell phones in the library.  Avoiding signs like this would be a good place to start:

Nothing says "Welcome to the library smartphone users!" like this sign, eh?

And if a patron has their library card barcode on their phone through an app like Key Ring, if your scanner will read it, for the love of Melvil Dewey, let them use it to check out items! If they are able to use these types of apps at grocery stores, pharmacies, and other businesses in your community without any problems, why should the library be any different? Remember, just say Yes!

2) Build a mobile website

You can build a mobile website for free, and it doesn’t have to be difficult (translation: you don’t have to be a programmer to do it). This iLibrarian blog entry provides a few options for you with a quick summary of each tools features.

3) Build an app (or buy an app)

According to Pew, “Some 35% of U.S. adults have software applications or “apps” on their phones, yet only 24% of adults use those apps.” Thus, I don’t think you necessarily have to go out and build an app for your library in order to feel like you are keeping up with your smartphone users needs.  And even if you do, wouldn’t you essentially have to build two, one for iPhone users and one for Android users? And perhaps three if you want to include Blackberry users? There are several libraries and institutions that have built apps, such as Oregon State University.  Obviously, building apps isn’t easy, and you need to have the technical expertise to do this, or, if you have an extra $6500 lying around (doesn’t every library these days?), you might be able to pay someone to develop an app for you.  Alternatively, you could buy an app from a library vendor, such as this.

4) Utilize QR codes

If you don’t know what a QR code is, read this definition.  As they say, the fun way to describe a QR code is a “barcode on steroids”. QR codes are sometimes described as a way to link the physical world with the digital world.  QR codes are ideal for adding value to objects and making them social. My brilliant colleague Bonnie Roalsen first talked about QR codes in libraries several years ago.  I am going to blog much more about QR Codes in the near future, but the Library Success Wiki has a lot of great examples of how libraries across the country are using QR Codes to do everything from text reference to helping users find specific resources in their collection.

How is your library currently serving smartphone users? Do you have a mobile website? A library app? Do you use QR Codes in your library?

Photo credit: Travelin’ Librarian

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Why smartphones are the greatest thing since sliced banana bread, and proof that everyone will have one soon

Photo courtesy of ste3ve (http://bit.ly/lbwEOj)

One of the areas that I am really interested in is mobile technology.  In the past year, not only did I get my first smartphone, but I also got an iPad, and both of these devices have really changed and enhanced my life, especially my smartphone.  Now, I don’t just use my cell phone to make calls and text people.  I use it to get my news on the go, listen to Chicago sports radio live in my car (even though I live in Boston), make intelligence and money-saving purchasing decisions at the store, find great restaurants in unfamiliar neighborhoods, measure my speed and track my distance on jogs through my neighborhood, and so much more! If you own a smartphone, you know exactly what I am talking about.  If you don’t, I assure you, you will understand very soon just what a life changing experience it is to own a smartphone.  I am very interested in collaborating with others to figure out how libraries can serve a greater role in this life changing experience for smartphone users.

Not ready to jump on the smartphone bandwagon? Well, you should be! Just look at the statistics:

1) Nearly everybody has a cell phone:

85% of all Americans own a cell phone as of seven months ago (including about half of all Americans 75 and older).  And of these 85%…

2) More than half of cell phone users will have a smartphone by the end of this year!

By the looks of this chart, I am predicting that about 95% of all cell phone owners will have smartphones by the end of 2014.  But do these numbers include all of the populations we serve?

3) Yes! We aren’t just talking about the white population.  In fact, many minority groups have above-average smartphone adoption rates:

In fact, smartphones are helping to close the digital divide.

I think these numbers illustrate just how critical it is for our libraries to offer mobile services to our patrons.  So, how can libraries serve our rapidly growing smartphone user population? I will discuss some ideas early next week.  Right now, I need to grab my smartphone and go for a jog on this beautiful late April day here in the Boston area.

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