We often say we need to go online to find information about something. But the piece of information that we want is mostly about physical things in the real world. When you assemble scattered data and bring relations to one another, those data produce additional information because they were given a context, which is essential to human understanding.
Now we can bring those data to our current surroundings to gain an immediate understanding about our surroundings in real time. Apps on smart phones are ready to give us “Augmented Reality” (AR).
You place your smart phone in front of you and scan your surroundings. The smart phone can show you the menu or restaurants that you are passing by. Check Yelp. The nearest subway stations from you? Use Nearest Tube. Want to layer a Real Estate filter on the world and find out the prices of houses on the street you are walking down? Try Layar.
“When I shift my thinking about AR apps to the physical library space I see our whole collection opening up before our eyeballs. Imagine the ability to walk down an aisle and see the reviews and popularity of an entire shelf titles just by pointing the camera lens on your phone at the spines (or outfacing covers),” writes Helene Blowers in her blog, Library Bytes.
When I think about AR, I see the whole world, the real physical world in which I move, live, play, and work, being transformed into a gigantic library. The library is no longer one place where you go for information. AR brings information to the world and makes it a library of your own. This library is not only extremely fun because you can interact with it in real time, but also immediately intelligible. Your perception is augmented by your mind. Information is provided in its context. This library is the real world layered with information over it. AR presents the world infused with information, an amazing library that is your breathing, living environment.
Recently, the MIT Media Lab developed a wearable computer which brings information on the object you are holding or looking at to any surface. Can you imagine? You can walk around and find all the information you want about anything you would like, and you may not even need a smart phone to get the information or to manipulate it.
Perhaps we really won’t need a library in the future because the library will be with us anywhere we go.
- Layar, worlds first mobile Augmented Reality browser
- TED talk: Talks Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demo SixthSense