Information Decoration: Mobile Augmented Reality

Submitted by Melissa Tomecz
Presenter: Fiacre O'Duinn
What will they think of next?
In his lively and informative session, Fiacre O’Duinn introduced us to the definition, history and challenges of augmented reality and how it will affect libraries. He explained how augmented reality is a combination of the real world and the virtual world, which is a new medium for people to receive information. It was stressed that most people will soon rely on location instead of visual factors for their sources of information. They will be looking for answers in real time, and most probably with their smart phones. Examples he mentioned were sites such as: (getting text messages warning you about which restaurants to avoid due to health code violations, while you are visiting a city), Geoloqi (enabling you to send future requests to a location you will be at later on) and Layar (where you share your own interactive experience/photos with others about a location you are at). He also reminded us that this new kind of technology can help our libraries become important sources of rich history by creating our own type of Streetmuseum (an app developed by the Museum of London, UK) or , where places on a map will provide virtual background information and for example, historical photos from a given location in the neighborhood. Libraries need to find innovative ways to integrate this technology to best effect and to the benefit of patrons who are eager to learn.
The presenter highlighted some important challenges with these exciting developments, including the potential for it to be viewed negatively as well as the irony that all this virtual technology (infinite space) depends on something real and tangible (Wi-Fi, which needs physical wiring to make it work). However in spite this, the amazing reality is that with this new technology, our information “interface” is no longer displayed on a stationary computer screen, but instead the physical and real-life world becomes this interface, a common space used by everyone to communicate by sharing in the here and now through their mobile devices. Everyone came away from the talk smiling and feeling inspired.