My sister, Sarah, with a Pokémon
Last week, it started with a social media post and the above picture of my baby sister. She was at a local restaurant with friends and shared a picture of a Pokémon character. At the time, I didn’t think anything about it other than she still loves things that are reminiscent of her childhood. Although I remember Pokémon from the late 90s (I was a teenager), I didn’t watch the show, play the game, or collect and trade the cards. I was busy surviving my freshman year of high school and watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It took me a few days (and conversations on my friends’ social media posts) to make sense of what was currently happening as they were sharing their Pokémon adventures.
With Pokémon Go becoming the world’s latest smartphone app craze–it’s been downloaded 20 million times since its release last week–and as much as I’d like people to explore the outdoors without it, I can accept that it has mass appeal and learn from it. Pokémon Go is a form of augmented reality (AR), where digital information is integrated with a “user’s environment in real time…[it] uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it” (Rouse, 2016). Digital media is now merged with the physical world and a smartphone, tablet, or another electronic device is used in conjunction with an internet connection, computer software, a compass, camera, and GPS. It’s like a virtual Easter egg hunt and it’s apparent that people want to play a game that gets them off the couch and outside searching for virtual hotspots to find digital monsters and supplies. As long as people practice safety and an awareness of their surroundings while playing it, I can deal with the temporary madness, since it’s encouraging these monster hunters to visit and learn about places in their immediate environment, including libraries, museums, historical sites, and local parks.
My sister and her boyfriend at Mt. Trashmore Park, Virginia Beach
Within school libraries, augmented reality gives the librarians an opportunity to showcase a library’s programs and share displays that will encourage users to learn more about the library’s resources. Videos can be placed on hotspots like the circulation desk, reading center, and computer lab with how-to-videos and instructions. During a library tour, students can witness book characters come to life sharing their stories while they scan a bookshelf.
QR codes are another form of layered reality. It is a quick response, machine-readable code format that provides easy access to information via a smartphone. Unlike augmented reality, it can only direct a user to information such as a website, whereas AR is more interactive and uses an image to trigger augmented content. School librarians can use QR codes during Back to School night, where students and their families can participate in a school tour and scavenger hunt. They would scan the QR code and listen to an audio recording welcoming them to the library. QR codes can also be used to share book recommendations and reviews created by students and placed near the corresponding bookshelves.
Here is a QR code I quickly created using http://www.qrstuff.com/:
Rouse, M. (2016). Augmented reality (AR). Retrieved from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/augmented-reality-AR