Advanced Augmented Reality TAPS Software for Visualizing 4BL Mechanisms with Touch to Print Technique

Advanced Augmented Reality TAPS Software for Visualizing 4BL Mechanisms with Touch to Print Technique

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0465-9.ch008


Many learning methods have changed the way students learn. One method that is achieving much attention is augmented reality (AR). AR is a technology that blends simulated and real environment during the learning, interaction, and visualization process. As such, an AR ATAPS with a new interaction technique (touch-to-print) was designed, tested, and evaluated. The aim was to provide an improved user interface i.e. without having to use markers so as the learner could focus more on the visualization process. The AR ATAPS is capable of recognizing the 4BL mechanisms (based on Grashof's law and user input data) (i.e., drag-link, crank-rocker, double-rocker, and parallelogram linkage) and have been used in this study as an adjunct to traditional problem-solving method. The touch to print interaction technique, which is the main contribution of this research, has been useful to engage the user in the problem with a new interactive and learning experience as compared to the previous method (i.e., the use of markers to interact with a virtual object). The interaction technique method uses seven functions that are recognizable by the ATAPS (rotational, link colour change A, B, C, D, pause and voice command) for the user to touch the symbols on the paper and the system to model and analyze accordingly in real-time 3D environment. This study explores how far AR technology has come to support students in their learning and interest in using this technology. The objective of this chapter was to determine the usefulness of touch to print interaction user interface for an AR application. A hands-on practical lab was conducted with first year engineering students at UNITEN. The evaluation and effectiveness of the AR ATAPS as an alternative to textbooks and current software learning packages was examined by means of a single-institutional evaluation study using mainly statistical quantitative techniques and ANOVA analysis. The prospective study (total sample size = 30) at University Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN) validated aspects of AR ATAPS interaction technique and provided feedback on the interface design and its problem-solving method. The results of the study showed that most of the participants never been experienced with AR applications before, but the ideas of implementing AR as a simulation tool for learning the kinesthetic and dynamic subjects is well accepted with a very beneficial feedback. Based on the findings, it was found that there is a positive changing in terms of the visualizing and imagining of the four-bar linkage mechanisms (4BL) which led to a good understanding of this subject. Further development of AR applications in the learning environment is being discussed.
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In general AR is a computer based system which has the ability to combine the real world and computer generated data. In this system, virtual objects are blended into real scene in the real time. Due to this capability, instructors can imagine the high potential that this technology might have if employed in the field of education. Ludwig et. al., (2005) define AR as Human-computer-interaction, which adds virtual objects to real senses that are provided by a video camera in real time. On the other hand Zhou et. al., (2008), simply defines AR as a technology “which allows computer generated virtual imagery to exactly overlay physical objects in real time”. Others define AR as a system that combines the real world with the computer-generated information in a real environment, interactively and in real time, and which align virtual objects with physical ones, (Höllerer et. al., 2004).

Generally, AR combines three dimensional (3D) computer-generated objects and text superimposed onto real images and video all in real time. An interesting definition of AR has been described by (Azuma, 1997), as a variation of virtual reality (VR). VR technology completely immerses a user inside a synthetic environment. While immersed, the user may not see the surrounding real world. It has been argued in an essay that: “Simulation of reality is not enforced by augmented reality. Instead, it takes a real object or space as the foundation and incorporates technologies that add contextual data to deepen a person’s understanding of the subject” (EduCause, 2005). This means the human perception is augmented or supplied with information not ordinarily detectable by human senses. An AR system can be identified by three properties which are the real and virtual objects are combined in a real environment, secondly, it runs interactively and in real time and thirdly, AR also aligns real and virtual objects with each other. In the learning environment, AR allows learners to interact with the real and virtual environments and manipulate objects that are not real. In addition to learning tasks and skills that have the ability to engage a reader in ways that never been possible.

Since the early 1990’s, many researchers have been working on how to implement AR for educational use (Fitzmaurice, 1993). “Within the field of Education, AR applications have to be grounded in sound pedagogy to justify their cost and not be viewed as a passing gimmick or latest shiny object that is intriguing” these were the comments made by Sterling (2010). The educational AR is more of the theoretical research than the practical application till now. It has also been stated that the previous hindrances of cost and software are now diminishing because of the availability of Smartphone and Apps (Sterling, 2010).

The use of AR applications in learning can improve the spatial abilities of students when learning science subjects such as math and geometric objects (Durlach et. al., 2000). In learning chemical subject AR allows the students to inspect molecules from multiple viewpoints, controlling the interactions of molecules and it can increase the understanding of the concepts of chemical molecules (Maier, 2009).

According to Manfred (2006), AR can be integrated as a teaching platform into the teachers and students environment for displaying audio-visual and multimedia content in line with the needs in the relevant areas. In addition AR can be used in training to provide rich contextual learning for individuals learning skill; Sarnoff Corporation demonstrated the first augmented reality training system for US War fighters (Henderson, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Marker-Less Augmented Reality: Relies in natural features of the image or object to be tracked, like the edges, corners, or textures.

Grashof’s Law: The law states that for a four-bar linkage system, the sum of the shortest and longest link of a planar quadrilateral linkage is less than or equal to the sum of the remaining two links, then the shortest link can rotate fully with respect to a neighbouring link.

Touch Interactions: This kind of interaction can directly be applied to graphical objects of interest without the need for special-purpose devices that users may need to operate in other forms of human-computer interaction.

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