Augmented reality (AR) glasses (also called A/R goggles and/or A/R visors) are peripheral pieces of computer hardware that permits the user to engage with objects and information presented to them both visually and spatially, allowing them to work with, and inside a realistic and convincing environment superimposed on the “real” world where three dimensional views inspection and dimensional manipulation along with deep engagement learning processes are second nature. Augmented reality glasses offer the most convenient and engaging method currently available to engage with augmented reality information and environments. The tool works like a pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses but instead of simply magnifying an object or reducing distracting glare the glasses project electronically rendered information (shapes, word, colors objects, etc.) into the wearers fields of view where they can then interact and manipulate with the augmented reality normally using their hands, arms and fingers. The systems are usually very adaptive and both children and adults quickly attain competence in the system capabilities and limitations. According to Bill Krug, Chief Technology Officer from Deloitte Consulting, “Enterprise adoption will outpace consumer adoption for some time,” The companies Tech Trends 2016 report puts a spotlight on VR/AR. Some of the current leaders in the A/R headset space include: Samsung, Google cardboard, Zeiss VR One, Osterhout Design Group (ODG) R-7, Meta 2, Oculus Rift, Microsoft Hololens, HTC Vive, Epson Moverio BT-300 and Sony PlayStation VR.
A/R glasses allow one or more layers of information or artifacts to be superimposed on top of the “real” world. Teachers working to adhere to the tenets propose in section 2 of 7 currently proposed in the draft ITSE standards for 2017 will need to “Lead” their peers, students and managers in such a way that do specifically what subparagraphs b and c advocate which is to “advocate for equitable access to educational technology digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students”. The standard also calls for teachers to “identify, test and curate digital tools, applications and resources, and share their knowledge to support effective use of evolving technology that support teaching and learning. A/R visors and the software written to be projected through them are have clear potential to reshape the landscape of how information is presented and learned in a significantly new and improved manner.
Teachers, academics and other stakeholders in educational technology who are proponents of the NGSS standards (Next Generation Science Standards) can quickly make a connection between what A/R glasses and headsets do and what the next generation science education and learning will look like. Dimension 1 of 3 from the foundation document that makes of the standard references the task of, “investigat[ing] and build[ing] models and theories about the natural world and the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems.” These tasks are easily and effectively accomplished to great effect by way of A/R glasses and the programming system that make the graphics and imagery compelling and so readily manipulated.
The current crop of A/R glasses and headset are all still contending with size adequacy issues (They are too large). The headsets, which while compelling in their ability to create immersive environments are still distractingly large and cumbersome with limits on the field of view in which the operator may engage the environment. Another limitation is the number of software application that are currently available for end users to do work and expand the realm of what can be done in augmented reality settings. School age children K-12 should be part of the design team for who the devices are engineered. They are the ones who will “grow up” with this technology and for whom the platform holds the greatest potential. Cost is the final obstacle to rapid adoption of A/R glasses. The most effective units still cost several thousand dollars apiece, far above the immediate reach of most private citizens and school districts. Over time, like other computer hardware the prices of these items will likely drop precipitously and this obstacle will be no more.