ISBE 2014, New York

Today marks the end of the 25th conference of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology, hosted by Hunter College in NYC. It was a really brilliant week, full of entertaining and innovative research. I think I speak for most people when I say I’m leaving exhausted but inspired.

I presented this: ISBE_poster

I think the research was well received, but I also had many people from very different fields ask me about the ‘Augmented Reality’ (AR)  sections of the poster with just as much interest!  I thought I’d outline a few of the things I learned while making the poster because it’s very easy, not very common (to my knowledge, no one else at ISBE this year had used it) and it really adds to the how people engage with the work.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out Aurasma, or better yet, download AR Studio for free from any app store and hold you device up to view the Draco in my poster.  AR Studio recognises the image and links to a video (in this case of the lizards displaying in the wild).  It is intended to appear as though the video is just a panel in the poster, that you can only see when viewed though your device. The content (or ‘overlay’) and image is called an ‘aura’.  Linking to a video (or other images, as I’ve done with other sections of the poster) is really just the beginning of what you could do though- some examples include graphs and figures that become 3D or can be manipulated!

I was lucky enough to have the help of the developers of AR Studio through the University of Canberra, and I loaded my auras through the back-end of the program. This means that anyone who has the app can access the content I’ve uploaded. Of course, how it actually plays out is that I had my smart phone and a borrowed ipad on my person during the poster session, and I handed them out to interested people as we stood there.

You can do the same thing though with the more commercial app ‘Aurasma’, but you need to create a channel and have responders log-in to that channel to view the content.  That’s a bit more of a pain, but for a conference poster session, you could set-up a single channel for all the presenters, so that using the app would be well worth it.  I believe you can also have auras set as location dependent, so that content is only available when viewed in a given location.

Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in chatting about AR a bit more – it’s so simple! Anyone giving a poster should be thinking about how they could use this to make it more interactive and thus, more engaging.

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