Education-Focused Augmented Reality Applications Drive Learning by Making the Invisible Visible

Futuristic as it may sound, Fraunhofer CSE and the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA) are teaming up to teach YOU how to build your own augmented reality application.

On June 27th and 28th, MAVA is hosting the “Connecting for Success Conference”, an event aimed at professionals involved with career and technical education. Fraunhofer CSE will be presenting new visualization tools for building technology— including augmented reality applications—as well as a method that vocational teachers and students can use to produce their own augmented reality apps in a few simple steps.

Augmented reality (AR) is the principle of overlaying information or graphics over the visible world as viewed through a smartphone or similar device. To date, AR has been the stuff of games and advertisements, but we’re starting to see more applications that open the door for augmented reality as a platform for education, training, and (we think) for building technology and energy efficiency.

Consider the possibility of using AR for building audits or maintenance procedures. When real-time data is collected, AR technologies can be used to overlay this data on the devices it is being collected from. Direct overlays of design schematics may also help in troubleshooting, offering a more intuitive alternative to going back and forth between a 2D drawing and its three-dimensional counterpart.

Augmented reality can be used to showcase systems and technologies that would normally be invisible to the naked eye.

Augmented reality can be used to showcase systems and technologies that would normally be invisible to the naked eye.

We will also be integrating AR functionality into our new Building Technology Showcase in Boston’s Innovation District. One major component of the new building will be its highly interactive lobby exhibit area, which uses state-of-the-art technology to give visitors an opportunity to see and learn about the energy-efficient systems in the building. By “making the invisible visible”, AR can serve as an important tool for our greater goal of driving public awareness of energy-saving technologies.

Will AR be able to grow from technological novelty to genuine information delivery platform? At Connecting for Success, you’ll have a chance to be the judge. Vocational education is very much about hands-on experiences, and as any Technical High School administrator can tell you, it’s “all about training for the jobs that don’t quite exist yet.” As David Ferreira, Executive Director at MAVA notes, “one of the successes of vocational technical education is the ability to meet the labor market demands of business and industry. Creating quality workforce development opportunities for emerging careers in our innovation economy is crucial to the economic stability of the Commonwealth. Graduates of vocational technical schools must be prepared with the cutting edge skills for the workplace of the future.”

Our goal is to get this tool in the hands of the next generation of building technology professionals and see what they come up with!

[Additional material by Gerrit Strack and Dan Kokonowski.]


About author
I'm the former manager of Fraunhofer CSE's TechBridge program, dedicated to supporting the commercialization of promising new cleantech innovations. All opinions expressed are my own, and don't represent an official endorsement from Fraunhofer CSE or the Fraunhofer Society.
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