An Augmented Reality Future
Every now and again, I'm blown away by the imaginative apps I see in the iOS App Store, as did this one: Ghost Guitar.
The app utilizes the iPhone or iPad 2's front-facing camera to track your hands. You strum with your right hand and fret chords with the left. Quite a simple mechanic that has been exceedingly well-implemented. The use of augmented reality as an interface has mostly been gimmicky. Having tried out so many AR applications, as a user and developer, the use of AR in this app makes sense and is surprisingly usable. Perhaps the only other AR based apps that have made equal sense are the augmented reality browsers. The tracking works from a few feet away and is quite a technical accomplishment. Augmented reality will eventually allow a unique way to control our increasingly digital world, how will 'Workplace Learning' take advantage of this?
The age of the 'mobile application' is well and truly here. While at this time, there is a profusion of platforms and application stores; there will no doubt be a shakeout and only a few survivors will remain. Development platforms are getting easier to use and with unified development platforms possible with HTML5 and the frameworks of the future. Developing and deploying such applications will become much easier, perhaps a time will come when you and I are able to create and distribute applications.
An obvious implication is that rather than the courseware focus that instructional designers have; perhaps instructional authors will have to design and deliver learning experiences through applications in the future. Eventually, one must speculate that there will be an application to learn 'anything' one chose? Will these applications simply be content delivery mechanisms, or much more? The value of simulations and games does not diminish on a smart-phone, they are still effective learning tools. Perhaps their nature will change to provide more just-in-time support rather than long-transfer learning. Additionally, technologies such as augmented reality and virtuality will provide opportunities to change the way we interact with computing technology; as an instructional designer, how will I leverage those? When given a bit of thought, it is evident that the design of learning experiences will require an entirely new approach and demand different skills from the ones instructional designers employ.