Be it Windows Mixed Reality
Magic Leap’s head gear
or Google’s Project Tango
It looks like augmented reality (AR) is poised to change the way we interact with our environments. In the edu-tech sector, these technologies will yield great dividends in the years to come. Traditional modes of education have already seen a shift from books and pens to laptops and e-learning and the improvement in AR technology and reduction of cost will accelerate the integration of interactive learning through wearables similar to Microsoft’s HoloLens or simply the use of cheap devices like Google cardboard
Augmented reality uses the knowledge from fields like optics, computer vision and 3D geometry to render 3D objects or even complete environments in the real world and provide an immersive and interactive experience. What this means is that you can use special hardware to augment the perception of the world around you and see objects which are virtually inserted in your surroundings. Imagine seeing the 3-D anatomy of the human body during the biology lessons, or scanning a geography book and finding the miniature river flowing right across the desk as it merges with the oceans. From 3-D coloring for small kids to simulated surgery practice for college students, with AR, the possibilities of a rich learning experience are endless. Another huge benefit of such AR devices is the scope of personalisation of learning for students. Many students process information visually while some are auditory or verbal learners. Even within these classes, the speed of learning can vary a lot within a classroom. AR devices open up the opportunity to customize the way a concept is taught in the classroom. In fact, the learning trajectories of thousands of students can be combined and analysed to impart tailor-made lessons to students.
Microsoft’s Mixed Reality headset seems to be one of the first large-scale wearables aimed at the education sector. As opposed to HoloLens, the mixed reality headgear only supports virtual reality for now although Microsoft eventually plans to combine the HoloLens and the Mixed Reality. Additionally, education publishing companies like Pearson have also shown interest in this new mode of learning by announcing mixed reality courses for secondary and university-level courses. As this market becomes more competitive, better quality apps will become available and more interest in this segment will lead to faster growth and adoption.
As a child, we often wondered what it would feel like to walk on the lunar surface or how magnificent a tiger looked from up close while feeding in its natural habitat or how the organs worked in perfectly synchrony inside a live human body. The children of the future will probably be able to see and feel all this and more and learn from such rich and expressive experiences which we could only imagine a decade ago.