What Does an Augmented Reality Book Look Like?

Popar (www.popartoys.com) is in Pop plus “AR”) has an idea about how to fuse books with augmented reality digital experiences to create a deeper, richer, more multifaceted read.  The results are pretty spectacular and may do more to add new life to traditional printed books.

The idea is pretty simple. You buy a big ‘ole picture book (about $27) wherever books are
sold.  They’re hard-covered luscious looking books with topics like Bugs, Planets or Construction Machines.  The books all have special AR markers on their pages.

Each book comes with a DVD that installs the Popar software. The software takes control of your webcamera and brings the pages of your book
to life on screen.  You hold a page of your book up in front of your PC’s webcam and the marker gets automatically
recognized.  That’s when stuff on your display screen kicks into action.  In the Planet book the planets’ start circle, rockeships launch … in the Bug book
scorpions appear to carry their babies, butterflies flap their wings. Planets start swirling, bugs start crawling, and a narrator’s voice explains the
subject material.

But wait, there’s more. Each book comes with a marker (named Mark-E, of course) that reads the page aloud to you and sets things in motion when it’s held in front of the camera. And, in the back of each book there are cut outs that turn into AR digital toys that you can mix and match for even more action.   Finally, there are add-on packs of AR cards which are also markers.  Hold these cards in front of the webcam and even stranger things happen.

Few  little gotchas.  This is not an app – it’s a bigger installation.  You need a webcam and a PC. There’s a DVD to install the software. Little hands will grow weary of holding pages up to a webcam (detachable webcams might be a better alternative since could capture the pages
while they’re laying flat on a surface).  And getting used to the variations in what happens as your pair different cards with other cards or books with cards is
impressively mind boggling.  Plus parents have a hard enough time buying a book for the kids, there’s going to be a bit
of an augmented reality book learning curve.

That said the results are a fun read and an eye-candy full of 3D and printed delight.

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