You may be forgiven for not having heard of the term Augmented Reality (AR), or even its application in a teaching-related context.
Wikipedia defines AR as the view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are supplemented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics.
In other words AR is firmly anchored in the real world but including additional information ‘overlays’ to the user to enrich his or her experience when looking at that object
It is important though not to confuse AR with Virtual Reality (VR) where nothing is real and everything is simulated digitally, as exemplified in Virtual Worlds such as Second Life.
For an example of a simple AR application have a look at this presentation by Matt Ramirez from MIMAS:
A suite of relatively inexpensive tools is now available which will help to explore AR as exemplified below:
There are currently a number of AR projects underway many co-ordinated by Matt -see below:
Combined with wearable technology such as AR glasses (e.g. Google Glasses) a pioneering AR Geology field trip project has been undertaken in Norway.
Furthermore the development of 3D Sensors (http://structure.io/) combined with Thermo Touch technology (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1HmYNqp8NM) will revolutionise how we interact with and respond to our surroundings.
There is a large online repository where digitally scanned 3D models are shared – the digitised Marbore jet engine model is an impressive example of the level of detail achieved https://sketchfab.com/models/b1e0c0a586b241b5996b1f2bcbfc664a
It will be difficult to predict at this stage what lasting impact AR will make but there will be lots of opportunities, in particular when combined with other emerging technologies such as the use of drones.
As to Harper Adams AR may be deployed in subject areas such as Agricultural Engineering, Land Management or Rural Building Design where close-up access is either restricted or impossible, but relevant details still need to be revealed.
Whilst it may be premature to apply this in the existing curriculum it may be worth keeping an eye on new developments and how they may be applied in our future teaching.