Your research should initially stem from your design. Has a project like yours been attempted in the past – and how did it go? Use this opportunity to examine the technology and design principles that made the project successful and/or unsuccessful. For instance, we are dabbling in Augmented Reality, and the best way to understand how it works for different project is to see them in action. Checking out Prelimb – an in-development application for the iPad, we can see an AR gardening app that lets users visualise their gardens in real-time before planting. The project’s simple purpose and use of augmented reality to supplement a real-life job make it naturally adapted for AR. It also uses recognition tech from Apple’s iPad, requiring only a single camera (unlike that of Apple’s Depth API with the iPhone 7+’s dual cameras). While they’re not transparent about the platform they use, the efficacy of using the iPad’s single camera might be unreliable, a consideration that we will need to take into account.
Looking at other AR games, like Anatomy 4D, (like many other applications like it) supplement the inaccuracy of their hardware by using AR tags. Anatomy 4D uses a printed page to overlay a cadaver to allow users to see the inner-workings of the human body in 3D. The user can enable and disable particular body systems to observe them. DAQRI’s implementation is surprisingly reliable but cannot find an AR tag from father than 1m, but can track a few metres back.
Using this information to make a game about discovering plants in a garden environment, using AR tags will be the most reliable method of object identification and tracking, with the caveat that the tags must be large enough to be recognised at a longer distance. Anatomy 4D’s approach to education is a more natural and effective way of teaching, because it provides a tool for teachers to translate information to their students. Many educational games can be overbearing in the way that they prioritise education over user engagement, and there aren’t many educational “games” anymore, particularly for Augmented Reality
But AR doesn’t need to be for education. The Nintendo 3DS’ built-in AR games are good examples of AR being used for entertainment. The usage of AR in this case, however, is a thinly veiled demonstration for its use in games, and the games themselves aren’t necessarily ‘enhanced’ from its use aside from fresh camera and motion controls. For our project, however, AR needs to be an embedded mechanic in our game.
AR doesn’t have much to support it academically, and much of what you find when searching for AR research is optimistic articles about how it’s going to revolutionise <INDUSTRY>. Until AR finds more advanced games and educational and industrial education, its academic value might still be low. These days, we recognise that games have use as military simulations, dementia treatments, teaching flight, rehabilitation. Augmented reality is well on its way to replicating regular games’ success and ubiquity, but relies on developers providing examples of how these experiences will benefit the industries they rely on.
With what we have, the best we can do is take inspiration from Anatomy 4D and Prelimb and use that to fuel our own ideas. Through testing, we can building on our knowledge through real-life situations – which is incredibly valuable for both our idea and understanding AR as a whole when in the hands of actual users.