Blackboard, chalk, textbooks, workbooks.

Recalling those good old days at school? Same here!

But honestly, they have become a thing of the past. Because education institutes globally have started embracing iPads, smart glasses, 3D images.

Pause for a while to appreciate how a fascinating thing called technology has changed teaching methods.

Teaching + technology = Magic. Just go to YouTube and watch any video where kids are using AR-enabled tools. The sparkle in their eyes when they see a planet coming to life on screen. That’s magical.

Augmented reality in education is turning an ordinary class into an engaging experience. “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.” This proverb rightly summarizes the role of AR in education.

In this article, we will explore in detail about how augmented reality in education is transforming this industry and why it is the need of the hour to incorporate AR to your teaching methods. We will also share everything that you need to begin with AR app development.

Let’s dive in!

How AR in Education Works

  • AR Simplified: Augmented Reality is a reality-based display environment that takes the capabilities of computer-generated display, sound, text and effects to enhance the user’s real-world experience.
  • Augmented reality overlays digital information on top of a camera-captured natural environment. To understand how augmented reality works, let’s first explore the major devices for AR.
  • Mobile-based AR: This includes smartphones and tablets. Here, a combination of the camera lens, device’s processing power, and internet connectivity provide an augmented reality experience.
  • Head-mounted Gear: Head-mounted device is a kind of display which you can wear on your head. It has a small display optic in front of one or each eye. They deliver a highly immersive experience. For example, Microsoft HoloLens.
  • Smart Glasses: They are lightweight and low-power wearables. Google Glass is one example.

Here’s how AR in education it works:

With the help of a camera or a head-mounted device, the AR solution captures a part of the environment. It scans the captured image to identify a point where to overlay additional information, the scanning happens with the help of markers or trackers like infrared, laser, GPS, or sensors. Once the AR solution identifies a point, it requests predefined content to overlay. The solution then forms a complete image consisting of the real-world environment and AR data.

For smooth functioning, any augmented reality solution requires the following components:

  • Camera: A depth-sensing camera to record visual information which you can to an existing object or place.
  • Registration Tools: Includes motion sensors and accelerometers that allow the computer to define the place of sensory information.
  • Computer Vision: You require machine learning algorithms to take an image from the outside world and interpret it. ML algorithm by adding a creative touch to the information will provide an immersive AR experience to the user.
  • Output Device: The display device where the user can view the results.

Feel like this is too much information? Let’s look at some examples.

Dinosaurs 4D+ is an AR app that gives a prehistoric experience of extinct Dinosaurs. By pairing the app with Dinosaur 4D+ flashcards, students can see dinosaurs in action, rotate them, and zoom in and out. They even get to read the information about each dinosaur.

Dinosaurs 4D

Arloon geometry app features 3D models with Augmented Reality for most geometric shapes. Students can view geometric shapes from all angles, see their sides unfold into flat figures, and in this way improve their spatial visualization.

Arloon geometry

Worldwide augmented reality in education is surging in popularity. Reports predict that the value of AR in EdTech will surpass $5.3 billion by 2023. This suggests that there are good opportunities for education institutes and businesses in this field.

For students, AR has some great advantages to offer by allowing them to interact with content and practice their knowledge in real-time conditions.

Benefits of AR in Education

Quick Learning

A focused student who concentrates on the learning material is likely to learn faster. AR technology, by making learning engaging, helps increase concentration and thus enables faster learning. Here’s how AR helps- (a) AR apps have a feature where information appears when the user points the phone camera towards an object. For instance, if a student points the camera at a vegetable, he can read the nutrition information on the screen. By displaying additional information immediately next to the object, the student can gather that information faster and retain it for a long time. (b) certain concepts are difficult to recreate. For example, it could be expensive or difficult to showcase the solar system in a way that a child quickly understands. In this case, AR can give a realistic experience to students by creating 3D models of the solar system. Thus, by enhancing the learning experience, augmented reality in education can significantly promote faster learning.

Read what Eric Abbruzzese, Principal Analyst at ABI Research has to say about this- “In an ongoing quest to maintain student’s attention, new visualization and interaction tools are a natural fit. Greater visualization capabilities fit in upper learning and research efforts as well, so AR/VR can address the entire education ecosystem from Kindergarten through to postgraduate research.”

Increase Interactivity

Education is changing constantly. Today’s students do not sit for 7 long hours and take notes of what the teacher says. Classroom lessons have become more interactive. According to the Stanford University School of Medicine, ‘Interactive learning actively engages the students in wrestling with the material. It reinvigorates the classroom for both students and faculty. Lectures are changed into discussions, and students and teachers become partners in the journey of knowledge acquisition.’

Interactive learning sessions can help students connect both with the lessons and other team members as well as retain more information. AR helps to achieve this. For example, teachers can make art lessons more interactive by taking students to AR-enabled museums where they will not just see the paintings but also get information on the painter, the meaning of the sketch, etc. Secondly, 3D simulations can make classes even more interactive. By bringing abstract topics to life, they make learning engaging. For instance, students can scan images from their books and learn from 3D models.

Stimulation of Multiple Senses

Kids learn in different ways. Some learn better by reading, some by hearing, some by visuals, and so on. Teachers are adopting a multi-sensory approach to learning that engages more than one sense at a time. Multisensory learning enables students to think in multiple dimensions. It improves memory, concentration, and promotes critical thinking. The reason why multisensory is effective is because the human brain has evolved to learn and grow in a multisensory environment. Our memory works best when we see an object and simultaneously hear the sound.

AR apps combine visual images with sound. This provides a better understanding of concepts and kids can learn quickly. ZooKazam is a zoology augmented reality application featuring animals. It includes supplementary information and a realistic sound to each animal. Students can read, listen, and understand at the same time.

Using AR in education

AR Apps for Kids

Early childhood is a crucial time for the development of core skills. Interactive AR activities or games can be highly beneficial at this stage. Here are some major benefits that AR apps have on children:

  • AR games give an interactive and immersive learning experience.
  • AR improved the child’s ability to explore new things and solve problems. Thus, it enhances creativity.
  • As kids deal with technology, they are likely to get motivation to learn every day because it’s fun!
  • They learn to collaborate with others and this increases interactivity.

Check out these apps that make learning easy and fun for kids.

Math Apps:

Teachers often struggle to teach kids math because not every student likes numbers. With interactive AR apps, you can create a magical world of numbers that your kids will love to explore. For example, Counting With Paula this augmented reality math app combines with flashcards to teach kids addition and subtraction.

Alphabet Learning:

Gone are the times when you make a child sit and force him to say ‘A for apple B for Ball’. Today, apps help the child to identify and learn alphabets from the display. 360ed Alphabet AR is an educational and interactive Augmented Reality app for children to explore the English alphabet and example words with life-like, animated 3D objects from the real world. They can rotate and zoom the model and even listen to the correct pronunciation.

Story-telling:

Story-telling is an effective tool for learning. It helps in the development of communication skills and creative thinking abilities. Using story-telling AR apps that transform your home into a castle or a forest will have a huge impact on children. For instance, through Wonderscope, kids can see the story take place all around the room. They can read their lines aloud to engage with and talk to characters.

AR Apps for Classroom Education

Augmented reality holds rewarding possibilities for classroom education. AR allows students to visualize and interact with concepts which are otherwise difficult to understand. This way it enhances the learning experience. Here’s a list of advantages of using augmented reality in classrooms.

  • With AR apps, students have access to learning models. These models help them with a clear understanding of concepts. The more students understand the more they participate in classes.
  • AR-enabled learning materials can help improve and increase memory.
  • AR-enabled worksheets can make homework more engaging.
  • Students can practice science experiments without endangering themselves.
  • Students get the opportunity to use the knowledge acquired to solve problems.

Check out these examples that are changing traditional classrooms

With AR apps it is possible to create body models that allow students to understand anatomy in depth. For example, Froggipedia is an engaging AR app which helps explore and discover the unique life cycle and intricate anatomical details of a frog. Right on the device, students can dissect and observe various organ systems. Another example is Anatomy 4D. This app allows students to scan printed targets and develop interactive 3D models of the human body. Users can then modify and adjust any body parts as they like and learn more about these parts.

Chemistry has become a fun subject. Elements 4D uses augmented reality to help students explore elements and chemical reactions. Users first need to print element blocks on paper, cut the shapes and fold them. Once the blocks are ready, they can hold them in front of the device camera to view the elements in augmented reality. They can also bring together two different element cubes to see if they react. If they do, students will be able to observe the compound created and the chemical equation that represents the reaction.

Thus, AR has made classroom learning more accessible, advanced, and interactive.

AR Apps for Self-education

Apps based on augmented reality gives learners the flexibility to learn by themselves. Secondly, students can now learn outside the classroom. Distance learning has become more efficient with AR-enabled learning materials. If you are in the USA wanting to learn Spanish, you can do so with the help of a language-learning app. Other examples of self-learning include Google translate. This app from Google features an “AR mode” that allows users to study foreign languages in real-time. You can check up words instantly without a dictionary in multiple languages. Star Walk, SkyORB 3D and Amazing Space Journey are apps that enable the user to study the skies. For that, the app uses the camera, GPS and gyroscope in smartphones to locate the various constellations, galaxies, planets and moons. As you move your screen while pointing to the sky, different heavenly bodies will appear with additional information.

If you are planning to create an AR app for either kindergarten kids or for self-learning, here’s a summary of the necessary information about types of application and AR software development kits (SDKs).

Getting Started with AR mobile apps

Before we begin discussing, note that you can build Mobile AR apps on phone and tablet platforms with AR content visible on the screen as a hologram.

Types of AR Applications

The first step is to choose the type of application you wish to build. There are two types of AR apps:

Marker-based: These applications are based on image recognition. They use black and white markers as triggers to display AR content. A marker is an image with lots of visual points. So, when the user points the camera at a page of the textbook, the device recognizes the marker and the app overlays digital data on the marker. Due to this, the user can see the augmented image. When building a marker-based app, you need to code the images or their descriptors beforehand so that it becomes easy to detect.

AR Applications

Location-based: These do not need markers. Instead, they use GPS and other position detectors like an accelerometer or a digital compass to create augmented reality objects. The best example is Pokémon Go. Location-based gaming apps are popular in education that encourages outdoor learning which students can do independently or in teams.

Choosing Augmented Reality SDK

A software development kit is a set of software tools and programs to create applications for specific platforms. SDK tools include libraries, documentation, code samples, processes, and guides necessary to integrate into apps. Every platform or programming language has its SDK which means you would need an Android SDK toolkit to build an Android app, an iOS SDK to build an iOS app, a VMware SDK for integrating with the VMware platform, or a Nordic SDK for building wireless products.

Criteria to Choose Augmented Reality SDK

  • Pricing: Any entrepreneur would consider the cost first. If you are building an app for the first time, we suggest you choose an open-source SDK. These development kits allow developers to contribute and add new features. The other option you have is a paid SDKs offering several pricing plans. You can choose a plan depending on your needs. If you are choosing a free version, be ready for limited possibilities. If your aim is to build a function-rich mobile app, you need to get a commercial license.
  • Platforms: Always check which platforms the development kit works with. If you are thinking to develop your app for iOS or Android, there’s no need to worry. Any SDK supports both Android and iOS. But if your plan is to develop the app with Windows or macO, you have limited options. Do some research and find out tools that are compatible with both the platforms.
  • Identify Objects: Image recognition is a must-have feature for any AR app. Most AR apps function through smartphones and other devices that use machine vision with a camera and AI software to identify images. Even smart glasses allow hands-free AR experiences by overlaying AR objects. Choose tools that let you build apps compatible with these gadgets.
  • Cloud Support: How do you want to save the user data- locally or on cloud? See, if you are planning to add lots of different markers in your app then the ideal choice is storing all the data on the cloud. By doing so, your application doesn’t require more space on the mobile device. Check if the AR development kit supports cloud recognition. You can even store the data on the device. An advantage of saving data locally is, it will allow users to operate the app offline.
  • Unity Support: Unity is a popular game engine. But it is capable of powering augmented reality apps as well. It is a multipurpose tool that allows you to create graphics, deliver a stunning experience, and extend new techniques. Check whether an SDK is compatible with Unity.
  • 3D Recognition: Applications supporting 3D tracking can recognize 3D objects like toys, boxes, etc. 3D recognition and tracking is an essential feature that you should check before choosing a development kit.
  • Geo-location: If you are creating a location-based AR app, this is a necessary feature to consider in a development kit.
  • SLAM Support: SLAM stands for Simultaneous Localization and Mapping. It is an algorithm which allows applications to map the environment and track the movement. Apps that have this feature can remember the position of physical objects and position virtual objects accordingly based on the movements of the user.

Augmented Reality Tools

Here’s a list of popular software development kits.

Vuforia

Vuforia

Platforms: iOS, Android, Universal Windows Platform, Unity.

Features: image recognition, text recognition (about 100,000 words), customized marks, 3D geometric map, unity plugin, supports cloud and local storage.

Price: includes free version, classic version – $499 one time, cloud – $99 per month and Pro version for commercial use.

Apple ARKit

Apple ARKit

Device: iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone SE, iPad Pro (9.7, 10.5 or 12.9) – both first-gen and 2nd-gen, iPad (2017), iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, iPhone X

Features

  • Visual Inertial Odometry to track the environment by combining visual information from the camera
  • Detecting horizontal plane surfaces
  • Detecting 2D objects
  • Lighting estimation to adjust the correct amount of lighting to virtual objects

Price: Free

Kudan

Kudan

Platforms: Android and iOS

Features: Unity support, 2D and 3D image recognition, CV engine that boasts a low memory footprint

Price: Free and commercial licenses

ARToolKit

ARToolKit

Platforms: Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, Mac OS and Smart Glasses

Google ARCore

Google ARCore

Device: Works on devices running Android 7.0 and higher.

Features: Motion tracking, light estimation, detecting horizontal surfaces, unity support

Price: Free

Maxst

Maxst

Platforms: Android, iOS, Mac OS and Windows

Features: SLAM support for tracking and mapping environments, QR and barcode scanning, 2D for image tracking, 3D for environment recognition, multi-target tracking, unity plugin integration

Price: a free version, Pro-One-time fee – $499, Pro-Subscription – $599 per year, Enterprise version.

Wikitude

Wikitude

Platforms: Android, iOS, Smart Glasses

Features: 3D recognition and tracking, image recognition and tracking, cloud recognition, smart glasses integration, unity support.

Price: Pro version – €2490 per year per app, Pro3D – €2990 per year per app, Cloud – €4490 per year per app, Enterprise version.

Design of the Application

Once you decide on a development kit after considering what features you require and what is your budget, the next step is designing your AR app. When developing an AR app, you not only need the help of UI/UX designers but also 3D artists. Their role is crucial as they will help you with 3D models or animated images which must look realistic.

A successful methodology for created augmented reality content looks something like this:

Design of the Application

App Development

Only 6% of enterprises have the developer talent they need. That’s why the demand for AR app development capabilities is growing. Also, sourcing high-quality AR app development experience is a difficult task. In such a scenario outsourcing your requirements to an experienced development company is an ideal choice. They will get your app live in the shortest possible time scale.

Summing Up

Education methods are becoming increasingly digitized and driven by innovations. And augmented reality in education has enough potential. The best part is, it is not limited to an age group or education level. You want to use AR for teaching kids’ alphabets, you can. You want to teach younger adults using AR-enabled models, you can. Whatever you wish. But you can only achieve your goal if you are able to create a fully-functional app that delivers immersive experiences.

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