Trending February 2024 # Accessible Augmented Reality Tools Unlock New Experiences For Art, Education, Retail, More # Suggested March 2024 # Top 9 Popular

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Creators are discovering new ways to tell immersive stories through augmented reality (AR). Driving the adoption of AR is a new generation of apps, tools, and technologies that democratize art creation and make virtual worlds instantly accessible to anyone. The evolution of AR from a novelty to an essential communication tool will unlock new experiences for artists, teachers, shoppers, travelers, students, and more.

One year ago, right as the pandemic began to reshape our lives, I spoke to half a dozen leading augmented reality artists to learn about their perspective on the future of AR. At the time, augmented art was still an obscure space, a niche branch of illustration and 3D design with a hobbyist feel. The artists I spoke to were optimistic, but recognized the medium’s significant constraints. The pandemic changed everything.

After a year at home, AR works have exploded in popularity with creators and viewers. Traditional artists are using this time to explore AR authoring. Virtual experiences can recreate the places we love and augment the confines of the four walls we’ve gotten to know a bit too well. As the world begins to emerge from the pandemic armed with new technology, how will AR shape our future?

Photos courtesy of Nadine Kolodziey

“The community seems more open and ready to dive into new virtual narrative formats that are more challenging, educational, and not only to be consumed passively,” says Nadine Kolodziey, an artist working in Berlin. Nadine’s latest works explore the potential of three tools poised to have an outsized impact on the adoption of AR: App Clips, Location Anchors, and authoring tools that are both powerful and accessible.

In 2023, Nadine began a collaboration with Scavengar, an AR creation and scavenger hunt storytelling platform, to build “Walk Your Day.” In light of the pandemic, the experience encouraged viewers to get up and have a productive and mindful start to their day through motivating visuals.

For her second AR experience, “New Nature,” Nadine challenges viewers, “What is the new reality?” A virtual garden and prompts along the way ask thought-provoking questions about life after the pandemic. “New Nature” is a geolocation experience playable at Bay Street, Los Angeles and Japantown, San Francisco. Scavengar is powered by Location Anchors in ARKit 4, a technology that locks an AR creation to a specific latitude, longitude, and altitude.

Associating AR content with physical places adds depth and context to virtual environments. Location Anchors offer retailers, museums, schools, galleries, and city streets opportunities to add value and wayfinding to their experiences. “If an experience has a place, a location, it becomes part of our world, even if the visual layer manifests itself on a display,” Nadine says.

Geolocation experiences have no value if they’re difficult to activate. A shopper won’t interact with an in-store experience that requires downloading a separate app or setting up an account. Cumbersome technology breaks the delicate illusion an artist constructs to tell their story. That’s where App Clips in iOS 14 come in.

The Scavengar team created a special version of “New Nature” you can try from home if you’re not near Los Angeles or San Francisco. Scan the App Clip Code above to get started.

Scavengar and “New Nature” are some of the first AR experiences that can be triggered by simply scanning a QR code from your iPhone. You don’t need to grab the Scavengar app from the App Store to dive in. You don’t need to visit a webpage and download a USDZ file. The experience begins almost as seamlessly as stopping to read a sign or streaming a video. It’s the combination of Location Anchors and App Clips that makes augmented reality truly start to feel transformative.

If you’d like to get started creating AR experiences, more resources and tools are available than ever before. I’d recommend beginning with this step-by-step guide created by Today at Apple, It’s Nice That, and WWWesh Studio. The guide will walk you through the basics of building and publishing a scene with Reality Composer, Apple’s AR authoring tool. Scavengar also has a series of getting started guides on their EDU website.

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Is Curbside The New Holiday Retail Battleground?

While health and safety concerns and local restrictions have prompted many retail operators to expand their businesses to the curbside, the longer-term story behind that shift is as much about convenience.

Retail has been using alternative shopping methods for years, including curbside pickup, lockers and drive-through windows; the pandemic has just accelerated that shift.

Groceries and hardware stores were always likely candidates for curbside operations, but we’re now seeing businesses as diverse as paint shops and pet supplies stores also offering curbside pickup.

The shift is so pervasive that the owner-operators of open-air suburban malls are now helping create the infrastructure to streamline curbside pickup. It’s a different way of delivering business services, and these changes work best when they’re effectively communicated and guided.

Improving shopping experiences

Over the last several months, I’ve seen everything from signs on sticks stuck in traffic cones to chairs with taped-on paper signs directing shoppers to a pickup location. These sorts of hacks deliver the wrong message about the store and the brand.

That’s why retailers of all sizes and sectors are adopting outdoor digital display technology that can not only locate their curbside pickup zones, but also notify customers and guide them through the process.

Depending on how sophisticated the operator’s systems and services are, as well as the scale of the business, digital curbside displays can provide anything from basic location and guidance (“Pick up here!”) to sleek, personalized experiences that drive customer convenience and experience.

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We’re seeing working examples of curbside pickup systems that recognize the driver through apps and sensors, greet them as they pull into the pickup zone and update them on their order status. That can all happen without the shopper needing to check in on an app once they’ve arrived.

Imagine rolling up to a pickup stall and seeing a screen that says, “Hey, Natalie! Welcome back! We’re pulling your order together and should have it out to your car at Stall 4B in three minutes! Just open your tailgate and we’ll load you up.”

Curbside pickup gained popularity in 2023 by keeping staffers and customers socially distanced and safe. But ordering ahead — and not even needing to get out of the car — is also very appealing to people who are on a shopping mission and not just browsing.

Outdoor technology options

Pushing retail technology outside can take a few different forms:

Fully outdoor displays: Housed in weatherproof, vandal-resistant enclosures, large-format totem displays — single or two-sided — can be networked and steadily updated with real-time customer messaging. Because the displays are in full sun, they have super-bright, daylight-readable screens and are engineered to operate in harsh weather. The biggest technical challenge is a simple one: You just need to power the units.

Portable, battery-driven displays: The modern version of sidewalk sandwich boards are sometimes called digital A-frames — screens that can be placed outside stores to deliver networked messaging during store hours, then pulled inside overnight. Batteries keep the screens running all day, and remove the tripping hazard presented by power cords.

In-window displays: Retail operators with large windows that face walkways and parking areas use extra-bright fixed window displays, with the messaging facing outward. This removes the technical hurdle of finding power for fully outdoor units, as well as the operating demand of moving portable displays.

Automating and managing these notification systems can be relatively simple, the wild cards being whether the retailer’s business systems are designed to work with external systems. A digital signage content management system (CMS), paired with devices like proximity sensors, can also help drive these displays.

Dynamic, responsive signage tactics

When I’m talking with retailers and discussing technology options, questions sometimes come up about why digital displays are necessary when shoppers can read printed signs or just use smartphone apps. I tell them this process is new and largely unfamiliar, and benefits from guidance. Using digital technology allows an operator to deliver multiple, personalized messages from the same position, and send messages about the brand and how it looks out for its customers.

Outdoor retail screens — particularly when pickup activity isn’t constant — easily double up as marketing machines, driving awareness and usage of business services, and also generating foot traffic by using their “downtime” for promotional messaging and branding.

The global health crisis has put a lot of pressure on retailers to evolve fast, in some cases speeding up three-year digital transformation plans into three-month plans. Adding a new layer of service and rapidly expanding business operations can seem daunting, so we spend a lot of time talking to customers about their needs and how they want to operate.

Retailers looking to push part of their business to the sidewalk and parking lot should be thinking in terms of their baseline state and their goals. Is this about experience and convenience? Is it about safety? Upselling at the curb? Loyalty?

Changing needs

This trend isn’t going away, we think. Lockdowns and social distancing forced digitally hesitant folks who had never used mobile banking to try depositing checks with their phone. It worked. And now they love it, forcing retail bankers to reexamine how their branches should work going forward.

Being able to pick up routine products without having to leave the car will appeal to many shoppers, across all age brackets and demographics. We’re training and guiding consumers about this new kind of convenience.

Everything about curbside pickup sounds great, but retailers are reasonably wondering: “What’s the return on investment?”

At a base level, doing business beyond the front door allows a retailer to operate even when local restrictions or staffing shortages make it challenging to open the store to foot traffic.

We’re also working with a lot of different retailers to look at things like purchasing behaviors and conversions, to see if the efficiencies and personalization realized through digital technology have tangible impacts. One of the areas that excites me is looking at on-screen messaging, doing A/B testing with displays and messaging to see what resonates with shoppers and using insights to fine-tune the content conversation between retailers and their customers.

Analytics from a variety of audience and shopper measurement technologies can also provide a huge amount of insight on how stores now work. We’ve already seen Walmart announce major changes to how its stores work, recognizing the “get in, get out” mission of most shoppers.

What we’re hearing from retail, broadly, is that a lot of clients want to inform, educate and protect both their customers and their employees. They want to know what they can do to drive things like basket uplift, but they also want to improve shopping experiences and make them more memorable.

It may seem counterintuitive in the height of a health emergency, and in a rough economy, to be looking for change, but retailers know their legacy operations have to adapt. Most of our customers are trying to move faster, and be agile, because they know their customers are demanding it.

Learn more about digital signage applications in retail by watching this free webinar. Then discover how eHopper’s mPOS solution can help you make contactless payment transactions.

Will Textbooks For Ipad Change Education?

Yesterday, Apple held an event focusing on education at New York City’s Guggenheim Museum to unveil a couple of new products that are supposed to change education. Apple opened up the event with the video below, where teachers explained what is wrong with education and why many students do not get the fullest education offered — or simply do not graduate.

Apple unveiled three new products yesterday: iBooks 2, iBooks Author, and iTunes U apps for the iPhone and iPad. iBooks 2 allows for textbooks publishers to sell their textbooks for $15 a pop, while iBooks Author allows for anyone to create text books simply through a Mac application. Lastly, iTunes U is an iOS app that allows for teachers to customize topics, provide students with office hours, post messages to the class, and give assignments.

With these announcements, Apple is working towards changing education, because really, education is not where it is supposed to be. But then comes the question: is Apple really the company that should be taking this charge, or should someone else? Moreover, will yesterday’s announcements make a difference? As someone infinitely familiar with the inter-workings of high school education, I try to breakdown why I do not think Apple is up for the task…

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We all know Apple creates great products. The Cupertino-based company revolutionized the smartphone, tablet, laptop, and it is potentially about to revolutionize the TV later this year. I am not degrading Apple in any way, because it really is the best computer company, and arguably the most creative company in the world. I really do mean that, because — well — I write for iDownloadblog.

But the whole notion that Apple thinks it can change education by making textbooks available on the iPad is just crazy. I think they nailed it in the video at the beginning of the event. Students have trouble coming to school everyday and having to look into textbooks to find the information themselves. Rather, students are used to being at home and having any information instantly accessible to them through the iPhone, iPad, or computer. If they do not know an answer on a homework problem, it is simple: Google the answer, or ask a friend over Facebook. Every single piece of information is right at their fingertips. While textbooks on an iPad might be easier to access and navigate through, I do not think they will change anything. Rather, education as a core needs to be changed.

Education in the US has been the same for years. Students are required to cram the information in their head, spit it out onto a quiz or test, and move on. They are also required to regurgitate it onto a standardized test a few months, or even years, later. Teachers and schools push their students to obtain better test scores to reach a certain quota. In reality, it is silly. Knowledge needs to be applied, and the way students learn is not necessarily the same from person to person.

I am not a specialist on this subject by any degree, but I experience it on a daily basis. School is the same grind everyday, where information is crammed, rather than applied. Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned education and creativity expert, shared similar thoughts in an inspiring talk. Sir Robinson said that education is an assembly line, where students are crammed with information.

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I will give Apple props on its iTunes U app for iOS. I think technology can be a great tool for organizing education, rather than basing education upon technology. The ability to manage assignments and communicate is very effective, and many schools already use similar services for their students. In my experience, these services do keep students a lot more organized.

So how can education be changed? I think that is a deep question that will require more thought from more creative minds than mine. But some ideas, as Sir Robinson pointed out, is more hands-on work, team work, and shorter hours.

In my opinion, having textbooks available on an iPad is not going to change a thing besides making textbooks cheaper and easier to obtain for students. iPad textbooks will not revolutionize education. Apple is certainly a brilliant company, but iPad textbooks are not what education needs to be changed right now. That is not saying Apple won’t be able to revolutionize education in the future, but I do not think the company hit it this time. Education needs to be rethought from the core, and reapplied in this modern age.

What is your opinion? Are iPad textbooks going to change a thing in today’s education? Let us know if you agree or disagree below.

Mastering Macos Mojave’s New Screenshot Tools

macOS Mojave significantly changed the way screenshots work on macOS. Review the changes made, discuss how to accomplish tasks previously accomplished in the new-defunct chúng tôi and describe how to use the new Screenshots application most effectively.

In the past Mac users could use the Command + Shift + 3 and Command + Shift + 4 to capture screenshots of the full screen and a region respectively. Those screenshot shortcuts are still available, so you don’t need to rewrite your muscle memory. But Command + Shift + 5 invokes the new Screenshots application which provides a screenshot GUI and more options, especially for post-capture editing.

The Screenshots Toolbar

Pressing Command + Shift + 5 will pull up the Screenshots toolbar.

The buttons on the toolbar perform the following actions, from left to right:

Capture Entire Screen: take a screenshot of everything on the screen.

Capture Selected Window: take a screenshot of only the foremost window.

Capture a Selected Area: drag a box around a region to capture.

Record Entire Screen: record a video of the entire screen.

Record Selected Area: record a video of the selected region.

The first three capture still images and relate to the keyboard shortcuts Command + Shift + 3, Command + Shift + 4 + Space, and Command + Shift + 4, respectively. The last two record videos, which are new features in Mojave. If you’ve ever used Quicktime to record a screenshot, you’ll recognize the functionality. It’s been essentially moved from Quicktime’s screen-recording functionality to the Screenshots toolbar.

To start a video, select either of the two record options and press the “Record” button in the toolbar. To stop the recording, either press the Stop button in the Touch Bar (if applicable) or in the menu bar.

Screenshot Options

The “Options” menu reveals more settings.

Long-time macOS screenshot pros may recognize these options. These screenshot options were once confined to Terminal commands. Now they can be set through this menu.

Save to

The first section allows you to select the target of your screenshot. By default, the screenshot won’t be saved there immediately. If you don’t interact with the screenshot thumbnail, the screenshot will be saved to this location.

“Clipboard” will copy the screenshot to the clipboard after capture. Use the “Paste” command (or the Command + V keyboard shortcut) to insert the screenshot into an editable field. Choosing an application (Mail, Messages, or Preview) will open the screenshot in that application immediately. “Other Location …” allows you to set a specific folder as the screenshot’s destination. If you select a location, it will be included in the destination menu later.

Timer

The timer functions as expected. There are presets for none, which captures the screenshot immediately. Five and ten seconds makes you wait that many seconds before capturing the screenshot.

Additional Options

At the bottom we have miscellaneous options. “Show Floating Thumbnail” controls the post-capture behavior. Keep the option checked, and macOS will display a temporary thumbnail after capture and before saving to disk. “Remember last selection” saves the region selection box used last, allowing for easier repeatable screen captures. For example, if you’re capturing the same window repeatedly, repeating the capture region is perfect. “Show mouse pointer” controls whether or not your cursor appears in the screenshot.

Editing Screenshots with Markup

In the Markup window you can use all of the annotation tools from Preview on your images. While the set might not approach the usefulness of professional annotation programs, they’re more than adequate for simple labeling or editing. Applying signatures or circling objects are both especially useful.

Conclusion

The new Screenshots tool in Mojave is a major upgrade from the previous tool. With the benefit of a graphical interface, taking a screenshot is easier, clearer, and more robust. While third-party tools like Snagit still offer significantly more editing and markup tools, Screenshots is a major upgrade for all Mac users.

Alexander Fox

Alexander Fox is a tech and science writer based in Philadelphia, PA with one cat, three Macs and more USB cables than he could ever use.

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Putting Learning First With New Tech Tools

Five areas you can focus on to ensure that the digital tools transforming education serve your learning objectives.

It’s wild to think about how new technologies are changing the way we think about teaching and learning. The digital tools many students have access to both inside and outside the classroom require us all to take a hard look at the way we use these tools in the context of learning experiences. It’s easy to get caught up with the shiniest, brightest, or most attention-grabbing digital device or website, but it is possible to pause, reflect, and prioritize tasks over digital tools in the classroom. Are we putting the learning first?

Designing rigorous learning experiences in a tech-rich classroom requires us to take a step back and think about the ways technology can elevate and energize students. Prioritizing learning experiences means identifying our objectives and pausing to explore how digital tools can help students dive into these learning experiences like never before.

Digital tools let students collaborate in new ways, question the world around them, connect their work with the world, create products that demonstrate their understanding, and wonder about new topics they encounter. These strategies can help you integrate technology into a lesson as you design learning activities.

Collaborating

Although digital tools have changed the way we think about creating in the classroom, collaboration means more than accessing the same document from different devices. Students can work together as they dive into new content and apply what they’ve learned in the classroom.

You might ask students to log in to a shared presentation outside of school hours to combine their research efforts in one place. Remote collaboration on a shared document is powerful and gives students a new way to provide feedback to one another. Designing learning activities that leverage the collaborative nature of digital tools allows students to explore a topic while sitting in different classrooms or time zones.

And when students share a screen—leaning over to discuss, record, and dive into media together—they also build transferable skills. This shared-screen collaboration gives students an opportunity to compromise, work toward a common goal, and think critically as they dive into course content with their peers.

Questioning

Typing a question into a search bar won’t always give students the full answer. We can leverage the power of digital tools to help students explore the world and answer questions that haven’t been asked yet or don’t have one correct answer. These deep-dive questions require educators to model their own searches and strategies for evaluating websites and online resources.

Modeling how to evaluate sources to find the answer to deep-dive questions is important for students to develop in any subject area, for any learning objective. As students navigate the internet from a personal or school device, we can create experiences for them to pose questions, share their findings, and build an appreciation of lifelong learning online.

Connecting

An authentic audience breathes life into both tech-rich and low-tech tasks. What makes the use of technology especially powerful is how digital tools can connect students with readers, listeners, and viewers of their work.

Using online spaces to share student work with the world helps students connect their learning with an audience. Students can tweet a video they’ve created to share their opinion about a novel, or share the steps to solve a math problem on a classroom blog.

Creating

Open-ended creation tools give students a space to demonstrate their understanding. They can capture their voice, record video, and tell the story of their learning. A tool like Spark Video might be perfect for students to narrate images they’ve collected during a community walk as they create a public service announcement to share with their school board. Helping students determine the product for that will showcase their learning can take many forms.

Students who are going to share their new knowledge about a topic might use an audio tool like Soundtrap to create a podcast, and ones who will gather a handful of videos they recorded during a science experiment might use Book Creator to share their learning. Focusing on the features students need in order to share their learning with the world can help us place tasks before apps.

Wondering

Providing a safe space to ask questions gives purpose to learning activities inside the classroom. Students have interests they can explore in the context of your learning goals. They might wonder why some animals are endangered and others are not, or they might wonder why an author chose to write about a topic.

Digital tools can help students discover new things, explore topics that pique their curiosity, and empower them as content consumers and creators. As they wonder about the world around them, students have access to online resources to help them harness their curiosity.

As you work to prioritize learning experiences over technology this school year, pause to ask:

At the end of this learning experience, what should students understand?

How will I know for sure if students understand?

What would I like students to accomplish?

In my new book, Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom, I share more strategies for placing learning goals front and center and dive into creation, collaboration, and curiosity in the classroom.

The Business Case For Transforming Customer Experiences With Dex

Nothing should come between a company and its ability to develop a trusted relationship with its customers — including a monitor.

In so many everyday scenarios, however, businesses have been forced to create environments in which an employee is trying to solve a customer’s problem or answer their questions while furtively scanning for information on a desktop computer screen that the customer can’t see.

“They may turn [the monitor] towards you once in a while, but for the most part you’re disconnected,” said Matt Hills, senior field engineer at Samsung Electronics of America. “How do we change that and make it more immersive, but also evolve the processes within a business to be more mobile?”

Hills will provide the answer to that question alongside Samsung Electronics of America Manager HyunJun Jung in a session at this year’s Samsung Developer Conference (SDC), called “Developer’s Insight: Transforming the Business With DeX.”

The Difference With DeX

Samsung DeX is a platform that extends a Samsung smartphone or tablet into a desktop experience by connecting directly to a monitor. It offers a true PC-like experience with drag and drop functionality, keyboard shortcuts and resizable windows. The SDC session will not only offer a deep dive into how the technology works, but how it has been part of a project involving a major multinational company over the past 18 months.

According to Jung, the case study will be a backdrop to a larger discussion about how the computing industry has evolved from accessing most enterprise data through a large, fixed form factor to something that you can carry in the palm of your hand. The processing capabilities of mobile devices have caught up to more traditional machines, but the Samsung DeX platform fills an important void.

“What we’re finding is that customers are reaching a point where they need to make a decision about whether they’re going to buy a phone, a tablet or a laptop,” he said. “Each one is in the $500 to $2,000 price range, but then employees hardly ever use certain devices because of the app explosion. You can now do pretty much everything as easily on your phone as you could on a desktop. DeX is just giving you that option to make it work within a desktop context.”

Samsung DeX in Practice

In markets like financial services, for example, DeX makes it easier for companies to share screens on mobile devices in situations where customers might need more education, Jung said, such as when they’re choosing new products for their portfolio or need to understand the details of a mortgage. A bank employee could then easily connect to a monitor afterwards to operate like a desktop user. The same thinking can be applied across many other vertical industries.

“There are a lot of legacy systems out there that are not mobile-first because they’ve been around for so long,” Jung said, citing enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other mission critical applications. “DeX builds that bridge to fill the gap so you can still use the old system, but to the end customers, it looks like you’re using new technology.”

“Knowing your use case and establishing your minimal viable product early on is important,” Hills said. “When that happens you can get to value quickly, whatever your use case happens to be.”

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Deciding on DeX

Organizations tend to consider transforming their business with DeX at a time when they’re getting ready for a device refresh, Jung said. If a firm is already building applications for mobile operating systems like Android, meanwhile, there typically isn’t a lot of extra work involved to make it function on the DeX platform, he added. That means operations aren’t interrupted, as they might have been in a more “rip and replace” scenario.

Both Hills and Jung talked about the potential for DeX to boost customer retention rates by providing a more engaging experience, but they noted the same could be true for keeping a company’s best employees on board. Particularly as new generations enter the workforce, there is an expectation of being able to lead with mobile technology, said Jung.

“Anyone who provides a service on the front lines sees the value here,” he said. “I often find this when talking to customers, where they say, ‘I only wish I had this tool to do this task.’ DeX is really about using the right technology in the right place, and not just for the sake of using it.”

Learn more about how Samsung can help your company go mobile-first. Then download this free white paper to learn how DeX can help your enterprise go mobile-only.

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