technology try-out: augmented reality – Aurasma

I have been interested in augmented reality (AR) in education for some time, but felt at a loss as to how to apply it easily.  The technology isn’t actually new, but like all great ideas, it can sometimes take a while before it becomes user-friendly.

AR – what is it?

For those new to the concept, augmented reality is an overlay of a virtual image/video/text so that you can see the ‘real’ world + the ‘virtual’ layer at the same time.  It’s a bit like personalised magic 🙂

AR – a growing technology

Like most technology, sometimes we have to wait for the masses to understand the application before it takes off (sort of like an ‘overnight’ movie star who has worked their butt off in movies for 10 years before being discovered)

In 2009 this article listed 15 Stunning Augmented Reality Apps for iPhone and in Sept 2012 we now have 40 Best Augmented Reality iPhone Apps and it is interesting to see the different applications.

Which one?

The new dilemma is not how you can use AR, but which app to select?

I’m not interested in turning my lounge room into a basketball court or finding the nearest London Tube station. I want to upload my own media so that students can expand their learning experiences.



 TAFE NSW North Coast Institute’s Augmented Reality 2012 Emerging Technology trial used Junaio to attach instructions on using safety equipment in the kitchen area for their hositality students.  Read more about this trial here.



Layar or Viewa are designed for print media and used by magazines to bring another depth of experiences to their readers.  The additonal media is identified by the app’s logo. For example you can download the app and watch a video on the car being advertised; order shoes on sale; find the nearest store and lots more options.

Some AR apps also use channels so you can broadcast your augmented reality overlay or keep it personal. Within Junaio you can also find nearby cloud-based shared objects such as Instagram photos (and then select them to see the profile of who uploaded it image and when) or YouTube videos. 

Aurasma logo

Aurasma logo

Recently I have played with creating AR objects known as auras using Aurasma. This is possibly the easiest app I have used to create AR objects as you simply identify the object you want to attach the virtual overlay to, then select your overlay and Aurasma then locks them together.  You then upload the aura to your chosen channel. No pc required 🙂  Aurasma also offers a free and open technology platform. Using the Aurasma Studio, partners can create and share Auras, apply for skinned versions of the app (with personalised branding) or embed the Aurasma kernel into their own existing apps.

The downside is the AR objects or channels they are accessed from aren’t shared between AR apps; so you have to become very loyal to your chosen AR application.

Here are a couple of AR objects I created over the weekend.  I hope to create some learning based uses and share them soon.  This is exciting for me as the most frequently asked question I get from our students enrolled into a 100% e-learning based course is “Can I have a printed version?” and my response has always been “Sorry no, as you lose the interactivity”. 

Now I have no excuses, can broaden their learning experiences and cater for more learning styles.

Cania Dam Lookout Aurasma

search for the channel ‘Wide Bay TAFE’ to see a video of the scenery at the Cania Dam lookout – a geographic based AR

Aura of a butterfly on a rose drawing

Aura of a butterfly on a rose drawing


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