So long e-books? Augmented reality is the future of hybrid paper books, researchers say

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GUILDFORD, United Kingdom — This new study is definitely a page turner. Researchers at the University of Surrey say augmented reality could soon be the future of paper books.

Researchers have unveiled the third generation (3G) version of their Next Generation Paper project. It allows the reader to consume information on the printed paper and the screen side by side. This could allow printed books to come back against the popularity of e-books.

“The way we consume literature has changed over time with so many more options than just paper books. Multiple electronic solutions currently exist, including e-readers and smart devices, but no sustainable hybrid solution to the ‘commercial scale,’ says Dr Radu Sporea, senior lecturer at the Advanced Technology Institute, in a university outing.

“Augmented books, or a-books, may be the future of many book genres, from travel and tourism to education. This technology exists to help the reader better understand the written subject and learn more through digital means without ruining the experience of reading a paper book.

To use the augmented reality books, all you have to do is swipe your finger or turn the page. The information will then be displayed on a nearby device.

These “a-books” can be manufactured on a semi-industrial scale thanks to new features such as energy efficiency and pre-printed conductive paper.

“Original research was conducted to enrich travel experiences by creating augmented travel guides. This improved 3G model offers the possibility of using augmented books for different fields such as education. In addition, the new model disturbs the reader less by automatically recognizing the opened page and triggering the multimedia content,” explains George Bairaktaris, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Surrey and member of the Next Generation Paper project team.

“What started as an augmented book project evolved into scalable user interfaces. The techniques and insights from the project led us to explore organic materials and printing techniques to fabricate scalable sensors for interfaces at the beyond the e-book.

Now you might be wondering what is the difference between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Researchers at Tulane University broke it down like this:

  • AR uses a real-world setting while VR is completely virtual
  • AR users can control their presence in the real world; VR users are controlled by the system
  • Virtual reality requires a headset, but augmented reality is accessible with a smartphone
  • Augmented reality enhances both virtual and real world while virtual reality only enhances a fictional reality

The study is published in the journal IEEE Pervasive Computing Magazine.

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