Augmented reality

What is it?

Augmented Reality (AR) takes information from the internet and overlays it on the real world. The things you look at can be 'augmented' with additional data such as text and images, or even animations, changing how we see the world and consume information.

How does it work?

To see augmented reality you need a digital camera to capture an image, and a screen on which to view it. This can be either a webcam connected to a PC, or a smartphone such as the Apple iPhone. When the camera or computer recognises a particular image (either because it sees a specific symbol or determines the user's location using GPS) this acts as a trigger to download the augmented information and display it over the top of the image on the device's screen.

Why is augmented reality useful?

Augmented reality can bring objects to life. For example, when using the technology to look at a building, augmented reality can overlay information on the building such as when it was built, who built it, what it is made from, and so on, just as might be done to a photo of that same building presented in a book. Similarly, when looking at a poster, augmented reality can be used to overlay an animated character. The combinations of augmented information overlayed on the real world are essentially limitless.

What do you need to keep in mind if your children are using augmented reality?

Augmented reality can be great fun, especially when the technology is used for purposes such as creating a virtual pop-up book. In terms of augmented reality information services, it is important to remind children that the information they receive is only as reliable as the service that has provided it.

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