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2016 Trends: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Each year, technology continues to change and evolve. In 2016, with only a few weeks left in the year, it is a good time to look back on two technology trends that impacted library services. This is especially timely since many of us will soon have to submit our annual reports to our library boards and with that, a look at the trends of the year.

Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality

This summer, the gaming world exploded with the launch of the game app, Pokémon Go. Fans of Pokémon were excited for this game and it brought in non-gamers as well with its ease of use. Many libraries also incorporated it into their programming with Pokémon walks around their neighborhood, book displays, programs, lure drops, and having passive activities in the library. It helps that many libraries are also Pokestops. Sarah Bean Thompson wrote a great ALSC Blog post, Why Pokémon Go and the Library are a Perfect Partnership, in July when the app went live. In her post, she explains that the game uses augmented reality to allow the Pokémon to appear in “real life.” This means that you will see the Pokémon through your phone screen as if it is in front of where you are standing.


Mount Prospect Public Library Facebook Post

Credit: Mount Prospect Public Library Facebook Page


While the Pokémon Go app is not the first attempt at creating an augmented reality game, it has increased the interest in this software. However, there are other augmented reality apps available for young children and companies that are focusing on the development of gaming accessories for augmented reality. For example, with the purchase of specific cards, the app  AR Flashcards – Animal Alphabet can help children learn the letters of the alphabet by associating them with animals. Companies Osmo and Tiggly have created tools to use with an iPad to create interactive augmented reality learning experiences too.  With the increase of patrons being connected through phones and other objects that are in the “Internet of Things” category, these apps and accessories will continue to be developed.

Along with augmented reality, virtual reality is growing and becoming more mainstream in today’s world. This can be seen in the mass marketing of devices like Occulus Rift, Vive, and PlayStation VR; as well as the adoption of creating library programming around them in university and public libraries for teens and adults. However, young children are not being left out of this trend. The View-Master that we all grew up with has changed into a virtual reality and augmented reality console. A user just inserts their phone to see more than just the photos that we experienced with our toy.

Along with the View-Master, consoles that require glasses similar to 3D glasses are being developed that provide a user with an augmented reality and virtual reality experience. The idea behind the sleeker glasses is to make the experience more intuitive. The zSpace is one of these consoles that does just that. Using lightweight glasses, a user can see a virtual model of many different items, study chemistry, biology, or engineering, or play a game.

zSpace Skull Image

Credit: Mount Prospect Public Library Twitter Page


The trends of augmented reality and virtual reality will not end in 2016. They will continue to be developed.It is important for us in our profession to know about these trends and be adaptable when necessary, and see how they can change or improve library services and interactions. These are two trends that I have witnessed this year. What are some technology trends you are watching?

Laura Bos is a Youth Technology Librarian at the Mount Prospect Public Library in Mount Prospect, IL, and is writing this post for the Children and Technology Committee.

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