WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote education has forced teachers to use every tool in their toolbox. But augmented reality, which allows both visual and hands-on instruction from any setting, remains out of reach for most educators.
A team led by Purdue University has built an app platform called MetaAR, enabling students and teachers to collaborate easily using augmented reality.
“Augmented reality is overlaying digital content onto the physical world,” said Karthik Ramani, Purdue’s Donald W. Feddersen Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “It can be delivered on many different devices, from a phone and a tablet, to a head-mounted display. For example, you can hold your smartphone camera up to your living room and rearrange the furniture in 3D. Or you can play a video game, and the characters show up on your kitchen table.”
Ramani believes augmented reality (AR) is still in its infancy.
“We’ve seen many applications in entertainment and advertising, which basically show you some sort of action projected onto real-world settings,” he said. “But the key thing is for people to become part of the action. Augmented reality can see what you see. It can sense your hands and see how you are manipulating objects, which means AR can actually help you. It can learn from everyone, and everyone can learn from it. That’s why it’s ideal for education.”