Writers and publishers are looking into Augmented Reality (AR) technology to entice younger readers into reading science and space books.
Leading the way are two Houston-based publishers named Ronak Singh and Sami Khan, who co-founded The Wunder Company.
The Wunder Company is particularly banking on AR to turn passive viewers of content into active participants in a story because AR can literally give life to the pages of a storybook.
According to Singh, the future of reading about space — and the broader fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) — will be an entirely new experience.
With augmented reality, reading will be a more interactive experience compared to the traditional paperback or hardcover books, even e-books. AR technology will be able to introduce functionalities where it can produce 3D images where users can touch, tap, swipe, or zoom in for a closer look.
“Augmented reality transforms screen time into a chance to make more productive use of time,” Singh said. “By turning passive consumers of content into active participants in a story that is as adventurous as an author chooses it to be, AR augurs a major change — change for the better — for readers, writers, and teachers.”
The introduction of 3D images that can be touched largely benefits topics involving space and science because they can include beautiful images such as the Earth, the Moon, the vastness of space, or even the Hubble’s latest jaw-dropping photo of Saturn.
In addition to visual aids, AR also has the ability to even pit audio data inside books. Imagine hearing Neil Armstrong say: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” as a child flips through the pages of when man first stepped on the moon.
AR will also be an effective tool to pique children’s interest in science and space because they can provide audiovisual content for things that are hard to imagine or conceptualize.
For example, children will never appreciate the engineering wonders of NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover because they simply don’t know what it looks like. Most likely because we don’t often have them in books or on television. By giving them something to see and hear, children will have an image in mind as books talk more about them.
Another example is about other wonders that the vastness of space hold, such as Halley’s comet. We often hear about it but we only get to see it once every 75-76 years. AR introduces the ability for everyone to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime comet by zooming in and maneuvering around the comet with your fingertips through the eyes of a spacecraft and watch it shed particles of dust as it veers closer to the sun.
Change of that sort promises to change the publishing industry, from the way the industry operates to the variety of books publishers print about STEM and space.
As Singh calls it, the reader becomes “active participants in a story in which they are the main characters. The experience is interactive—the feeling is immersive—so that readers have a stake in the outcome of the story.”
Other than stories about science and space, augmented reality also opens a lot about different genres of storytelling. They can help shed light on other often mislook topics such as engineering and autobiographies.
In other words, AR can help turn what we often consider as boring into something exciting.
As The Wunder Company expands its library to include AR-related titles about space and science, parents and children will have a chance to read and interact with books in a new way.
Fortunately, we may not have to wait for long because The Wunder Company have already started making books with AR tech and it’s only a matter of time before we get a first glimpse of how they want to tell man’s efforts of reaching space and exploring it.