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Augmented Reality, Covid19, News, Technology

Augmented Reality Apps Keeping Users Busy During Covid-19 Lockdown

Mimi Sarwar

Mimi Sarwar, Writer
@uxconnections

Augmented Reality (AR) has been dominating user experience (UX) and with the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been turning to AR apps to help pass their time.

There is no doubt that augmented reality is offering undeniably amazing opportunities. Users can communicate with visually impressive overlays, games and even rebuild information around them. With its weighted focus on enhancing UX and creating a digital world that matches our physical one, AR offers its users a world of digitally enhanced possibilities.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the globe, most people have found themselves being confined to their homes for most of the day. With this, they have found many ways to fill their time using the wonderful world of technology. Whether it’s virtual meetings, appointments, classes or tours, technology has helped to keep life in the current lockdown productive and endurable. There’s never been a better time to explore AR technology than it has now.  

AR is accessible on smartphones making it an easy-to-reach interactive experience in the palm of user’s hands. AR apps built with smartphone users in mind have been tailored to enhance the immersive experience. Since AR is all about super imposing computer-generated images in the real world, AR apps are making the virtual world a go-to for users new and old to the technology.

Practical classes brought to life with AR

The pandemic has forced many industries to shut down, one being schools, colleges, universities, and other teaching institutions. Children and students across the nation are currently stuck at home and one way that teachers are trying to maintain an academic routine is by replicating the classroom setting via online learning.   

Conducting classes via online communication platforms such as Zoom, and Microsoft Teams have helped propel this method of teaching as an emergency measure to the pandemic. But while delivering lessons using these video conference technologies has been easy and intuitive, with collaborative features such as chat, breakout rooms, white boarding, annotations and content sharing, practical classes have been a problem. This is where JigSpace AR has been able to solve the problem. The app is a library of content which concentrates on applying 3D objects and figures whilst engaging students through interactive features. If, for instance, the user wants to know how to play piano, the app will demonstrate an AR presentation of a piano and a step-by-step guide, zooming in should they wish to. It helps bring the presentation to life, educating the user is a more practical led way – one way of keeping busy during the lockdown.

AR brings global art and culture to users

People are still facing restrictions when travelling abroad but with the help of cutting edge AR, art and culture can be delivered straight to users on their smartphone. The BBC’s first ever AR app Civilisations AR puts history in the user’s hand by bringing realistic, to-scale global artefacts from history. One can discover treasures such as the secrets of ancient Egypt, iconic sculptures from Henry Moore and translate hieroglyphics from the British Museum’s iconic Rosetta Stone.

Users can move, scale and rotate the vast collection, allowing them to become the explorer, coupled with audio guides and spotlight features. Smartphone users can travel around the world in AR style and select their chosen artefact to discover more about what history holds and then take and share photos of the objects in their chosen real life setting.

SketchAR: Creating AR art

Users looking to tap into their creative side can pass their time using SketchAR – an AR tracing app which combines technology, science and art. The smart app was awarded as the ‘Best Use of Augmented Reality 2018’ by Webby Awards – the most prestigious awards for digital products and the internet.

On paper, the mobile app uses the smartphone’s camera to create a guided drawing experience. Images can be traced onto walls and if users want to go one step further and paint theirs, they will need their smartphone. If users want a hands-free experience using the app, AR glasses provide freedom through downloading the app on Microsoft HoloLens.

Users can choose an image to sketch, with a wide range of handy courses and lessons to choose from. The AR app will project the chosen image allowing the user to trace and sketch around it giving them confidence whilst building a love towards art.

Gaming to pass time

For those who are taking an interest in the gaming arena, there are AR apps that have helped keep people busy during the COVID-19 lockdown. Pokémon Go has proved to be a successful augmented game since 2016, with GPS to mark a user’s location and show virtual creatures called Pokémon which appear in the player’s real world location.

Ingress, released in 2013, was big tech giant Google’s first step into the AR industry. Being the first mobile game to revolutionise the use of player’s location and create an augmented reality, Ingress has captivated users by seamlessly blending their physical and digital world.

Blending two worlds

With social distancing measures set to continue throughout the world, the real and virtual world are blending more with the help of AR. The visually appealing and smart technology is digitally connecting users to the world. With cutting edge apps available, people are now able to keep themselves busy in a time of uncertainty.

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