Locative Media, Augmented Reality, Context-Awareness, & Smart Technologies

With recent advances in mobile media, global positioning systems, and cloud computing, Web 2.0 and social media has transcended the boundaries of the digital to the physical.      Although in the 2010 Horizon Report the time-to-adoption horizon for simple augmented reality is forecast for the next two to three years, the use of this type of technology is clearly ahead of schedule.  In the report, it asserts,

Augmented reality has strong potential to provide both powerful contextual, in situ learning experiences and serendipitous exploration and discovery of the connected nature of information in the real world. Mechanics in the military and at companies like Boeing already use AR goggles while they work on vehicles; the goggles demonstrate each step in a repair, identify the tools needed, and include textual instructions as well. This kind of augmented experience especially lends itself to training for specific tasks.

At the same time, such technologies have also been somewhat confusing, especially as terminologies have been incongruent according to different standards and industries.   Regardless, academic librarians are well positioned at the forefront of this technology.  Why?   Much of the students that we deal with are Generation Y or digital natives, are already well versed in mobile technologies such as iPhones and are using them at the reference desk; as such academic librarians face questions at the reference each day from student’s accessing touchscreen technologies.   Moreover, what about RFID technologies?    Far from being limited to warehouses and farm animals, libraries in fact have been developing such technologies for better usage of its shelving spaces for the better part of this decade already.    With the advent of mobile technologies, however, academic librarians need to continue to move ahead and they need progress to the next phase: how to develop services which will serve our users seamlessly in the semantic web world.   Here are just a rubric of terms.

1. Augmented Reality – The concept of blending (augmenting) virtual data — information, rich media, and even live action — with what we see in the real world, for the purpose of enhancing the information we can perceive with our senses.   It’s also term for a live view of the physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery. 

2. Context Awareness – Linking changes in the environment with computer systems, which are otherwise static.   As such, computers can both sense and react based on their environment, producing an replicating elements of artificial reality.   Context aware devices may even make assumptions about the user’s current situation

3. Locative Media – Allows users to reveal where they are (i.e.  exact location within any geographical area) and all of the places they have visited by using mobile or handheld phones.  Although its communication may functionally be bound to a location, the physical implementation of locative media however is not bound to the same location to which the contents refers.     In using technology such as global positioning system (GPS), locative media  ultimately disrupts and challenges the relationship of consciousness to place and other people.

4.  Smart Technologies – Is used primarily in an educational settings, where users annotate and control computer presentations including during their lectures, saving the presentation with the notes directly from the whiteboard to the compute. The annotated presentations can be made available to students for review outside of class or saved for future use by faculty.   the idea is interactivity, where the whiteboard is an interactive tool that uses touch detection for user input – e.g. scrolling, right mouse-click – in the same way normal PC input devices, such as a mouse or keyboard, detect input.


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