Dr. Yi-Fan Chen is an Assistant Professor of Interaction Design in the Visual Communication department here at Farmingdale College. On February 23rd, Dr. Chen discussed her research on Augmented Reality with Farmingdale students and staff at this semester’s first Research Colloquia. The untapped potential of Augmented Reality can be used to make the daily lives of all people much easier and has the ability to enhance our real-world experiences in ways that were not possible prior. 

Dr. Chen first became interested in Augmented Reality (AR) when she discovered the AR mobile application, Layar. Layar was used as a digital museum that gave users a more detailed view of historical monuments and sites right on their cell phones. This application was available on mobile devices that helped bring Augmented Reality into mainstream media consumption. Another example Dr. Chen gives is StreetMuseum. StreetMuseum is an Augmented Reality application that shows you real historical events that had taken place. This was widely used in London to show the rich history of its buildings and various locations. Being able to look at a building you are standing in front of, and point your phone at it to see what it looked like over 100 years ago is the type of technology AR can provide us. This imagery can even be overlaid by detailed information on the history of the building, this will surely change how we learn about the world around us. 

Augmented Reality allows users to pull up images or videos on their mobile devices and make it seem like it is appearing in front of them in reality. Giving a real feeling to the digital world. One of the earliest mobile devices that had AR compatibility was flip phones. These phones are considered obsolete by today’s standards due to the normalcy of owning smartphones. Which are essentially mobile computers that we all carry around in our pockets. Even though Augmented Reality has been around for quite some time now it has been hard to perfect. Major technology companies such as Google, Apple, and Facebook have been developing AR devices for a while and hope to have them in mainstream circulation in the near future. 

Dr. Chen has a strong belief that the use of AR technology will be beneficial to organizations and companies rather than just be a form of entertainment. In her ongoing research of Augmented Reality, Dr. Chen has used her expertise to find out that the businesses and organizations who adopt the use of AR technology not only help the technology develop but benefit themselves. 

Augmented Reality can also help local governments garner more attention than they ever would before due to the use of this technology. Through Dr. Chen’s research, she has found that AR technology helps make travel easier for people who want to go to foreign countries. Using a translator application on your phone you can translate a sign or any type of writing that will translate it into the language of your choosing. Dr. Chen also states that using images taken in AR will give people a better view of landmarks or other sites that people would consider traveling to. Inspiring people to see them for themselves in person rather than digitally. 

Another way that AR will positively impact business would be in the real estate industry. Dr. Chen discussed how you could use any AR-compatible device to get a real-time image of property for sale as well as all the information one would need when looking to buy a property. This also gives the user a more personal connection to the property because they will be at the location in person rather than just seeing photos on a computer screen at home. This can help potential buyers make a better assessment of the property with all information available to them right on the spot as well as actually seeing the property in person in real-time. 

As for the entertainment side, one of the most popular forms of AR entertainment is Pokemon GO. Ever since July of 2016, Pokemon GO has been the biggest form of AR entertainment and took the world by storm. This type of entertainment has such a drastic impact on people and how we interact with the world around us.

According to Dr. Chen, many people have used or been using Pokemon GO as a vital form of social interaction and have been giving people new opportunities that they did not once have access to. Being able to walk around the real world, finding and capturing Pokemon inside a virtual environment has led people from all over the world to interact with each other and form new friendships. This provides evidence as to how AR can help local governments thrive by holding sponsored events. Dr. Chen spoke about a live Pokemon GO event that was held in Taiwan that allowed people from all over the world to meet in one location and get exclusive items by attending the event in person. Pokemon GO has been a trailblazer for the world of entertainment in AR and it will be exciting to see what other new AR games will bring people together as Pokemon GO has. 

Augmented Reality technology has been around for quite some time now. With the constant improvement and development of technology as a whole, the future is bright for Augmented Reality, Dr. Chen suggests. With its ability to run on simple devices such as flip phones, the potential of what it can do with the smartphones of today seems to be limitless. Not only can it be used to entertain the general public, but it can also be used as an educational tool that can help shape the future for young generations and how they learn and interact. During the question and answer portion of this colloquia, Dr. Chen was asked how AR technology can have an impact on education. She stated that schools like Farmingdale can set up Augmented Reality tours that will allow potential future students a more personal view of the school. Dr. Chen is trying to bring the new wave of Augmented Reality technology to light and show how important it is for the future of society, one student at a time.