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At our recent international Global eLearning Conference, we were lucky to have Michael Wheeler, CEO and Founder of Reality Lab, LLC, with us. Reality Lab specializes in the conception, design, and deployment of augmented reality experiences. Michael shared some fascinating information on the use and application of Augmented Reality (AR) in eLearning environments.  Specifically, we learned how Augmented Reality could help us educate, visualize, and communicate more effectively in these challenging times.

Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality


Michael educated us on the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality.  Many people assume that these descriptions can be used interchangeably, but they are two distinct innovations.  According to Wikipedia, the two technologies are clarified as:

  • Augmented Reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory.” One of the main differences between the two is that virtual reality puts YOU into an artificial environment. Augmented reality puts digital experiences in YOUR WORLD.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world.

An Amazing New Medium


Augmented reality creates new possibilities in eLearning, causing us to think differently.  This amazing new medium uses our physical space… which we consider to be the “real-world.” At the same time, it isn’t video, but something far beyond that.

When we apply augmented reality to the user’s real-world, we engage the user’s reptilian brain to process the information presented.  This gives us, as educators, some unique advantages.  For instance, the 3-D environment engages the hindbrain.  Attention increases by 45%, and mental engagement doubles.  Not only that, but memory retention also increases by 75%.  These are considerable advantages indeed, especially when applied to the learning process.

A Unique Toolbox


Augmented reality brings some other unique advantages to the table, which are essential to note:

  • Users are 3-D Spatially Aware
  • The Effects are Non-Linear
  • Interactions are Physical
  • Users are Location and Lighting Aware
  • Contextually Aware

Perhaps the most notable is contextual awareness.  In augmented reality, data can direct the experience.  GPS, Time, Tide Charts… all possibilities of new ways to analyze and use data in the real-world.

Augmented Reality Pioneers


Reality Lab works as a pioneer in the augmented reality space. They bring a new dimension to storytelling as they teach their audiences how to use augmented reality in their worlds. New technology borrows from the old as users learn to think spatially. Michael tells us that video games are the starting point of augmented reality.  They use AR and include storytelling in their format.

Some Further Questions


After Michael’s presentation, the audience raised some additional questions, as follows:

With all the applications for AR, How do you see the corporate world using AI?

A great example of corporate use of AR would be trade shows.  When we create them virtually using AR, they bring the product to the people instead of the other way around when they physically attend the trade show. It could also be used to configure industrial space or to show product demos.

Can you give some examples of advantages in education?

Museums are exploring the possibility of creating augmented reality versions of exhibits to deliver to students through remote learning.

When is augmented reality more appropriate than virtual reality?

When you want to see projections but stay in your own world.  An example would be seeing the sea level rise over time at your house.

We enjoyed this lively discussion about augmented reality and its possible applications in education and business.

To view the LIVE VIDEO from the Global eLearning Conference, visit our YouTube channel. You’ll see this panel discussion and other highlights from this international event.


Global eLearning was the host and exclusive sponsor for this event. Global eLearning provides translation and localization services to meet the unique needs of the Learning & Development industry. For more information about Global eLearning, click here.