Augmented reality (AR) has been highlighted as one of important trends to watch in the near 2-3 years horizon (see 2011 Horizon Report). There is no denying that the way we learn and the way we take in information is going to be very different with all the new technologies, platforms and applications and AR is already making its way into our lives. So what is augmented reality? This simple video created by Commoncraft.com  explains it all, or as simply put by University of Houston Libraries  – seeing the things around you through the Terminator’s Eyes.
You don’t need to search very hard to find a good example of its application – just look at Google Map’s Street View functionality and you will get a good feel of it all:
Here’s another application that have been developed for the London Underground Tubes:
Here’s an example of a library shelf reading application :
You can find a good list of videos in this Wiki done up by University of Illinois showing some of the education related projects  that are already experimenting AR.
Take a look at these short videos produced by Inglobe Technologies  showing its possible use for the publishing, cultural heritage, architecture, furnishing and automobile related industries. Inglobe has also published a white paper on Augmented Reality and the Future of Printing and Publishing  which does show some new opportunities and perspectives that AR can bring to the academic world of learning.
AR certainly looks very promising and soon within reach and it would be interesting to watch its take-off in libraries. Can you think of some areas where libraries can use AR? Here are some of my thoughts:
– Library Recommendations – Imagine putting your mobile over the book cover and it immediately gives you a list of users’ reviews and ratings.
– Audio and Video trailers – Imagine placing your mobile over say a sample AV casing/image and you can easily have access to audio/video clippings of the title on hand.
– Library Exhibits – For libraries who do exhibits/displays (e.g. artifacts, artworks, etc.), you can complement the displays with information about the specific objects to enrich the display.
– Library Directories – Users can immediately see which part of the library houses what collection or where to locate what facilities and services.
– Library Data Collection – (Staff doing weeding or collection development would love this) Imagine holding a tablet or mobile (as long as you have a camera) in front of a row of bookshelves and it immediately maps a layer of polka dots or vertical bars onto each book spine based on the number of times it has been loaned out.
 What is augmented reality? (video) by Commoncraft.com
 Seeing the Library through the Terminator’s Eyes : Augmented Reality (slide presentation) by University of Houston Libraries.
 Augmented Reality in Education – This wiki by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a very good list of videos and links on AR projects in education.
 Sample application videos by Inglobe Technologies
 White paper on Augmented Reality and the Future of Printing and Publishing by Inglobe Technologies
 Metaio Bets Augmented Reality On Tablets Is The Future
 Seeing is believing : Is your library ready for augmented reality
 7 things you should know about augmented reality