Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kid Friendly Newspapers Via Augmented Reality

Someone recently shared this Popular Science article about an augmented reality app that 'translates' newspapers for children.  The main idea is to simplify the language, add animations, and include character commentaries to make difficult topics easier and more enjoyable to read.

At first, this seems like a really cool use of augmented reality.  Maybe it could even help revitalize the newspaper industry.  Why not transform something that's designed for adults into something adults and kids can enjoy together?

The only problem is that the newspaper isn't really needed once you have the app.

I mean, it's needed in a literal sense, since that's what kicks off the augmentations in the app.  But once you have a digital version of the contents, why would you need a print version, too? Is the 'reality' part of this augmented reality app adding something - anything - to the experience?

To understand why AR apps should meaningfully include reality, have a look at my recent work on the subject.  If reality isn't an integral part of the AR equation, then we probably aren't using the best interface for the job.  This goes for learning apps, which I focused on in the above link, as well as many other types.

The article above seems to agree with this sentiment, asking these questions among others: "If you already have the content, why not just post it online, Tokyo Shimbun? Will any kids actually want to use this?"

Very good questions indeed.  I truly believe AR has huge potential, especially in education.  But it's never going to move past gimmick if we can't design apps that align with reality for a reason.


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