Once upon a time there was a tool called Metaio Creator, developed by a German company that created augmented reality software. In case you don’t know what this is, reality is what you see around you, virtual reality is an artificial world projected in front of your face, while augmented reality is a combination of reality and virtual reality so you see what’s around you augmented by images that aren’t really in front of you.
if you watch the above YouTube video about Metaio Creator, you can see an interesting use. The woman takes a picture of a magazine page, then adds a three-dimensional image of a bat that appears on top of that magazine page. However, to view this augmented reality, you need to use your smartphone camera and Metaio app to view the augmented reality image. In this case whenever you aim your camera at the magazine page, you see the image of the flying bat on the page at the same time.
In reality, the magazine page exists. In virtual reality, the flying bat image exists. In augmented reality, both exist.
In the old days, there were certain children’s books that displayed a seemingly random series of images, but if you put on a cardboard pair of glasses provided by the book, you could see the same image except with the clutter stripped away to view an actual image. That’s the basic idea behind augmented reality, and this gives authors and publishers a new way to create interactivity with printed materials such as books and magazines.
Granted, it’s a limited field since not everyone has the augmented reality app, but you can already see the possibilities. Create a normal book explaining how to fish and the book and pictures themselves can be instructional as an ordinary book. Now aim your smartphone or tablet camera at the page and augmented reality can show you additional images that provide a new level of interactivity and fun.
Augmented reality is just another way to make printed information more engaging, useful, and compelling. If you’re a writer, you need to look past the idea of relying on static text and pictures to get your point across. Instead, think of augmented reality as a new way to present additional information.
Apple bought out the company that made Metaio Creator, so you can expect them to release a new version of the software in the next year or two. In the meantime, keep your eye open for augmented reality. It’s coming faster than you might think and is just one more way to make books more interactive than ever before.