Why Augmented Reality is Important for Libraries

Holograms have arrived. Modern computers are able to seamlessly track nearby surroundings and virtually anchor objects and interfaces to them. It is branch of technology known as Augmented Reality, or AR, and it incorporates artificial elements into the physical world, usually by means of a headset, mobile phone, or other digital device. To the user, digitally added stimuli appear to exist in his or her approximate physical space but are actually artificial layers of content visually overlaid. It is a holographic illusion with major potential.

Compared to its sister technology, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality has a more practical application in everyday life. Instead of transporting the user to digital content, AR transports digital content to the user, bridging the gap between the physical and digital world. Due to this hybrid approach, an AR user is never detached from his or her surroundings and can seamlessly absorb content without being isolated in an artificial, omnidirectional world like in Virtual Reality.

There is great opportunity for libraries to utilize Augmented Reality. Some libraries have already begun to harness AR technology (though they may not even be aware of it), usually through mobile device cameras. For example, there are AR coloring books that give the illusion of illustrations “popping out” from the page. Also, a recent popular mobile AR application placed animated creatures in geographic locations around the world and many libraries enthusiastically participated in a global AR phenomenon as a way to appeal to young patrons.

Augmented Reality has been naturally integrating itself into society for years. Whether it is an artificial line drawn on the field of a sporting event for TV viewing or content added to a mobile phone’s camera feed, AR innovations have captured the attention of the public. The technology is only in its infancy, but has proven to be quite popular. Offering devices which incorporate AR is the first step towards a society immersed in it.

Future libraries will likely incorporate AR because it has potential to offer patrons a wealth of new possibilities. Patrons will be able to perceive objects, information, details, and models based on local surroundings. For example, they could look at a book through an AR device and see reviews, synopses, author biographies, relevant videos, and additional related content, without even taking it off the shelf. In this world, something as simple as a book display might rapidly evolve and become shining beacons of knowledge. When it comes to libraries, the application of AR technology is limitless. Adopting holographic technology is a major step to the development of AR, and libraries can become an integral part of its application and evolution.