Augmented reality is a swiftly growing field not only in entertainment, but in education. Augmented reality books are one subset of that field which offer a huge range of opportunities for new development of entertainment and educational models.
These books merge traditional text with digital content using a piece of technology like a smartphone or a gaming console, and the use of an app which plays video, creates models from content, or allows for interaction with the text. There are a whole host of AR books already in print, but the possibilities for publishing (and self-publishing) books of this type are virtually limitless. This article will show you some of the different examples of this technology already on the market, and how you might explore creating AR content of your own.
AR Books: how they work?
AR Books are physical or digital copies of traditional books, both text and illustrations, that are then linked to additional, non-traditional content through the use of technology. When a piece of technology with a display screen and a camera (such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a webcam) is pointed at a page in the traditional book for which additional content has been created, an app installed on the technology ‘reads’ the page and displays that additional content on the screen of the device. This content could be as simple as another picture or video file or an audio clip, or as complex as a whole animated sequence or even a game or activity associated with the traditional media.
Jack Hunter: The French Connection
This book is part of a series of books featuring the character Jack Hunter, written for children, and focusing on adventure, treasure hunting, and derring do. Released in 2012, author Martin King invites readers to enter the world of Jack Hunter, a 13 year old boy leading a fairly normal life. Until, that is, he and his family witness a robbery and are sucked into a world of adventure and Russian spies.
The book comes in hardback, paperback, or digital format, and features not only augmented reality content such as images and sound, but an integrated game which encourages readers to examine clues to find coins that will help to solve the crime Jack and his family witnessed. The book and its associated content are for ages 11-14. Get it here.
Animal Kingdom Education Book
First published in 2014, this is the first in a series of educational books for children featuring the animal kingdom. The company, Interactive Fun, has plans to release at least four more books in the same vein, focusing on insects and ocean life, among others.
These augmented reality books use a combination of text and illustrations to describe animals in the usual encyclopedia style. However, when a smartphone is held over the illustrations, fully animated versions of each animal appear, that can be turned and manipulated by the user. These books encourage children to engage with their educational content, giving them an interactive experience that's fun and engaging as well as informational. Get it here.
iStorm: Wild Weather and Other Forces of Nature
This book, released in 2015 by the same publishers behind the popular iDinosaur, takes children ages 6-8 on a journey through the craziest weather our planet has to offer. Each page describes a different kind of extreme natural phenomenon, from tornadoes to earthquakes, and gives the reader the chance to have a taste of what those forces are like in person. By holding a smartphone or other enabled device over the pages, kids can unleash a volcano that consumes the page, or a tsunami that washes the words away, or view a truly magnificent thunderstorm and the beauty of its lightning in action.
Get it here.
An Elephant in our Garden
This charming picture book published in 2013 tells the story of a little girl and her family's garden, and the elephant who comes to call. The book, written by Patrick E. McLeod features traditional illustrations by Jeffrey M. Arnold, as well as four augmented reality components in the form of animated sequences which play when a device with the free app installed is held over the pages. This book will enchant children and encourage repeated readings and engagement with the charming story. Get it here.
Color Alive Series – Augmented Reality Coloring Books
By merging coloring books with a proprietary app, Crayola, partnered with AR developer DAQRI, has created a series of coloring books that let children really bring their creations to life. Each book appears to be a normal coloring book, with images of fairies, dragons, and popular cultural icons to color in as they please. However, once the coloring is complete, children can use the accompanying app to generate a 3D model of their drawing, shaded in every way like their colored picture on the page, which they can then interact with and move around on the screen. Get it here.
Red Cell, White Cell: A STEM Based Augmented Reality Book
Author Michael Brown brings children into the microscopic world of blood cells in this STEM-focused educational book for kids. When a smartphone or tablet with a camera is held over each of the pages, the associated app brings the narrators of the book, Red Cell and White Cell, to life, describing the content on each of the pages and providing even more information about some of what goes on inside of our bodies. This book was published in 2014. Get it here.
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Rocks In My Socks: Children's Story Book with 3D Augmented Reality Activities
This illustrated activity book by authors Pamela Dennison and Darren Lutz in 2012. This book is the fun story of Gracie, the pink Triceratops, who has some strange visitors in her striped socks. The augmented reality portion of this book is more involved than the other examples, and includes 12 fully realized interactive activities and games that relate to the scenes that take place in the story. The app to engage with the AR content is included with purchase, and will engage readers with hours of extra content and enjoyment. Get it here.
Horrible Hauntings: An Augmented Reality Collection of Ghosts and Ghouls
Like the interactive animals in the Animal Kingdom Educational Book, this AR book published in 2012 features interactive models of illustrations from the book. This book, however, takes the reader far from the natural world and into the realm of the supernatural. With spine tingling stories from around the globe about all kinds of ghosts and hauntings, this creepy book will entertain for hours when you bring the ghosts to life using your device and the associated app. You'll want to keep the lights off for this one! Get it here.
Tagme3D: Augmented Reality Books
From science and the supernatural to dinosaurs and the human body, augmented reality books have a huge potential for education. These books, the first published in 2014, set their sights on helping young readers learn how to speak English. In today's mobile world, providing reading experiences that can speak to their readers in their native language while helping them comprehend and learn English is the sort of advanced application that this technology is made for. This book's app generates an adorable companion that hovers over the page and helps readers with pronunciation and context for the words they are reading. Moreover, the app allows the book to support a host of languages, including Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German, and more. Get it here.
This final book shows a different sort of implementation than the previously reviewed titles. Sleep Sweet, by author Julianne Black, is a charming bedtime story that comes to life when read with the Spellbound app. Unlike the other books on this list, the Spellbound App is intended to be used with a host of different titles, each unique and featuring different content. This kind of integrated content, books with augmented reality as a standard feature rather than a curiosity, is becoming the standard for AR technology,, and provides readers with assurances of content and ease of use. Get it here.
How to Make an Augmented Reality Book?
Virtual Reality, or Augmented Reality, books are one of the swiftest growing trends in publishing, especially publishing for children. The opportunities to engage readers with digital content above and beyond the two dimensional words and illustrations on the page opens up a world of possibilities and opportunities for individuals willing to work with the technology.
Anyone wanting to create AR content would simply need to develop an app which has an integrated function that recognizes the images or words that the camera is looking at, and executes a set of commands based on that visual input (similar to QR Codes). This content could be something like a simple set of moving images, or the playing of a predetermined video or sound file, or it could be as complex as a digitally rendered model of content on the page, or an integrated activity that responds to voice or touch. The sky really is the limit when AR technology and traditional publishing join forces.
How AppReal-VR Can Help?
For anyone wanting to try their own hand at creating AR content, there are companies out there willing to help. App development entities like AppReal-VR have teams of professional augmented reality app developers, game developers, art designers, and technology experts that will help you to create exactly the kind of content you need to bring your two dimensional content to the next level. AppReal-VR, and other companies like them, bring the expertise and support to help make your creative vision a reality.
So maybe the next time you find yourself reading a book to your child for the 50th, or 500th, time, and wishing there was something more to it, ask yourself why you can't make that a reality for yourself? AppReal-VR can help you step into the wide open frontier of augmented reality, and give you the tools you need to bring your imagination to life.