Research and Development

Completed prototype- Research and development, evaluation and a Business plan

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The final prototype that I have created is based on the principles of how advertising works in the educational business context and that is why every piece of paper or photograph that I have put into the folder is based on market research and research into reaching an audience. I have achieved this through looking at other competitors ways of distributing their ideas as you can see in earlier blogs and this is a breakdown of how I technically achieved each element.

The actual folder

Essentially just a net folded together to look fancy but as the shell for the actual resource inside it needed to

  • Look professional
  • Represent its contents
  • Stand out within competition

and this is where the knowledge of branding came into play. I sketched out the semiotics of what I wanted to represent, notably the use of a hand as a symbol of classroom interaction and discussed my ideas with a graphics designer. Together we put together the final design using Photoshop and illustrator and sent it off to a professional printers to be made.

Working with a professional associate was a beneficial experience, I learnt about budgeting, communication and unfortunately but beneficially the importance of checking a design before finalising it. On the front cover stands the tag line ‘Somethings cannot be taught from books.’ Taken from a real interview with a student in a discussion about my product it speaks exactly what I wanted it to, however it doesn’t speak it in a way which is grammatically correct. Within minutes of noticing my mistake I contacted the printers and unfortunately it was too late. Annoying? Enormously. Some thing (two words) to learn from? Definitely. Attention to detail, especially for selling an educational resource for the classroom is hugely important. Some things cannot be taught from books, and how frustrating it is to make such a mistake in a real life business situation is one of them.

Schon talks about a cycle of learning and in that way that experience was perfect, I developed something through research and then popular knowledge gave me an area to improve on and in the future I will be more careful with the detail.

The letter and FAQ’s

Throughout my research I have spent a lot of time talking to teachers and those within the educational sector. So to create a letter, on the size of A4 without sounding too desperate and to sell my product back to the audience who has helped me was something which required research before hand.

Surveying teachers on existing resource packs as you can read about in my previous blog showed me that a popular resource pack was ‘Stonewall’. Their straight to the point and honest approach in why their resource should be used in the classroom inspired me to write a letter to the teacher which not only breaks the ice but aims to explain the benefits of PshMe. Within the surveys I also discovered that teachers felt favourably towards the inclusion of frequently asked questions so I included these too.

If there was one thing which I would improve is stating the particular age of which the product is aimed at, to do this I would need to do even more research into the curriculum and age appropriate expectations. In the future I will be working closely with a group of teachers and those educated in this area in order to do this.

Demo DVD

Although I’ve done research into the technology behind augmented reality I am as far of from being a software programmer as Joey Essex is in learning how to tell the time. This is why I used existing skills and archive footage to demonstrate my ideas as closely as I could to the real thing.

I would love to have put more time into this demonstration as the animation was very basic, which is for my part a sign of bad time management but I thought that the screen shots were more effective in demonstrating my ideas and these went down particularly well in the beta testing of my folder.

Prompt Cards

I enclosed prompt cards to accompany the Demo DVD to replicate the interactivity that is a key theme with my software.

In the future I look forward to working with a programmer to actually replicate this interactivity into a demo as well as the software itself.

Example lesson plan

Context has become apparent to me as very important, as I have not been able to develop the software yet. I felt that a lesson plan which actually shows a way that my product could be used would help to do this.

In my feedback, one respondent very recently stated that:

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The emotional issue of confidence in using technology is something which I aim to deal with consistently throughout the future development of my product.

Technical details

Thinking back to the above comment and to this feedback during beta testing:

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I listened to the respondent, as schon tells us to learn from our research I enclosed a small note explaining the basic technology behind the software in a way that establishes a popular concern, child safety within the use of technology.

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So I have developed an innovative product by the terms of what my research defines one as, based on the genuine needs of teachers in a genuine context and have learnt and developed from my mistakes throughout to create an idea which, evidently whilst it still has room to grow also has room to sell. And that is where the business plan comes in.

Beta testing my product; Research and development

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On  finishing putting together the contents of my resource folder, I have sent off the folder and a short survey to several teachers to beta test my product and see whether I am on the right track, or if I’m not then what I need to do make it suit the needs of the audience.

In my folder so far, using the market research of existing resource folders and the opinions of these, there is:

The actual folder, branded with the graphics developed by myself and a graphics designer.

letter and faq (2) for the teacher, offering a brief insight into the product and clearing up any possible concerns they may have.

An example lesson plan to put my resource into context.

And a DVD of  a demo and screenshots of the software, including prompt cards as a visual guide.

The questions that I have asked my focus group are:

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Using the responses that I receive, I will continue to develop this idea accordingly to the wants and needs of my audience, the teachers.

Branding my product; Research and development

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The actual contents of a research folder are, in terms of being innovative the most important but the last couple of days I have been developing the branding of my resource folder. Although not the most important stage every stage of development should still be undertaken in an educated way, based on existing knowledge.

Starting with the name that I would choose, I wanted something that would represent what the resource actually was but in a fun way.

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Existing brand names, were typically no longer than one or two words and whilst some were a bit cryptic others made a little more sense.

I wanted a hybrid of fun but professional, so opted for something more sensical to the theme;

PshMe!

The PSH bit, personal, social and health is obvious but the Me! bit is to represent how the software is personalised to the viewer and is all about how you think.

And thats what the ethic branding of my product is; it’s fun but professional, follows the existing curriculum and is personalised.

‘Some things cannot be taught from books.’

And there is my tagline. Based on the feedback from one of the students I asked about the current teaching of pshe in schools. To create an innovative product, according to ‘What is innovation” by AGI, is to create something based on the genuine needs of your audience rather than something that you just have a desire to develop and that is exactly what I have intended to do throughout.

And on to developing a logo, although I’ve had a little practice with photoshop before I opted for help with developing my ideas more professionally.

Talking to a graphics designer about my product opened my eyes to the theme that I mentioned before, when designing something for a strict function, functionality is more important than typical attractiveness. Whilst branding is important, in that it creates the first impression of a product, where schools are under tight constraints of many varieties simplicities is appealing in a resource for the classroom.

Working with the graphics designer, these are the designs that we have come up with so far.

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The hand represents a willingness to interact in the classroom, the speech bubble to signify the freedom of speech and the light through the hand the use of the interactive whiteboard and advanced technology. Following the rule of simplicity, a logo which could be placed all over various products within my folder, the second one on the right is my favourite.

Following the rules of ‘innovation’ however, I will leave it up to the actual audience to tell me if it works or not as I ask them to beta test my resource folder in development.

Putting together a resource folder; Research and Development

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I have finally got to the stage of building a prototype, as you can imagine for the device I am creating, I can’t literally build the software and demonstrate it with an interactive white board as I do not have the time and money to do this in the space of 2 weeks. *eek*

However, with all new resources introduced to the classroom comes a resource folder for the teacher to play with and make a decision before committing to purchasing the licence. So that is therefore what I am building, based on the research of both existing resource folders and the opinions of the intended target audience.

I sent 500 surveys off asking two simple questions:

As a teacher, what is beneficial for you to find in a resource pack for a new product in the classroom?

and

What is a good example of a resource pack you have encountered before? What was good about it?

This turned out to be surprisingly useful, taking even just a single snippet of feedback for now:

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gave me something to look into. The stonewell resource pack frequently popped up as a strong example of a resource pack so I sent off for one.

I waited.

And waited a bit longer.

The deadline got much closer so i did my research into this pack online instead. The website, very usefully and clearly lists what the pack includes.

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I can see why respondents to my survey such as this teacher:

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think so highly of this resource pack. Yes, it is mostly leaflets but the idea is organised well into points and places the resource into content easily for the teacher who will be using it.

I’m taking note.

Using this research, I have decided that my own pack will therefore have a focus on clarity, overcoming potential problems and will include:

A letter explaining the product,

A visual demonstration with prompt cards,

Snapshots of the product,

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A potential lesson plan

and frequently asked questions.

Ethics of a product utilising ethics – Oh the irony! ; Research and Development

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I’ve talked about dragon’s den quite a few times within reference to marketing my product.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03wv70w/Dragons_Den_Series_11_Episode_11/ About 30 mins in.

And when I was watching it last night I panicked somewhat for a few moments,

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when this client walked through the lift door the voice over said ‘That she was coming up with a product, that she hoped would improve the emotional wellbeing of children.” Oh dear. I listened on with my hands almost over my eyes scared to watch.

And then next thing I know, she unveils this.

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It’s a virtual world. Oh deary indeed.

“Karisma Kids, is a fun safe and engaging brand that helps children to manage their moods and build self-esteem.”

Phew!

Although scarily close for comfort, this classroom resource does deal with ethics but it is aimed solely at the promotion of self whereas my resource deals other problems such as money handling, health as well self esteem as outlined in the department for educations guidelines for the compulsory teaching of PSHE in every classroom.

It also uses cartoon characters, which my research found were harder for young children to identify with than actors and so I will be using actors. My resource also uses webcam technology, a new and therefore innovative technique in the classroom, proven to challenge views, to really engage the students.

The dragons’ detected a major flaw in her product which made me think about my own however, she was  essentially charging a small fortune for both parents and schools to purchase the website with additional costly add-ons to improve the quality of the product and thus the boosting of the children’s self-esteem. Guilt complex much.

But am I guilty?

Yes I am aware of the competition and so recognise the need for profit to evolve a product which, considering it’s audience and purpose will need to continually evolve to fit its purpose but the main focus of my product, profit wise is to create a one sale product which appeals to all schools within all budgets. I don’t believe that it is fair for an underfunded school, where quite frankly the need for better PSHE teaching is often larger than say a private school to no be able to afford my resource which will make a difference. Therefore my product will require a one off licence fee for the software and that is all, which will be considerably cheaper as long as the school agrees to adhere to the Educational community licence. I believe this appeal will bring in a larger pool of interest than other approaches app developers currently use.

Other ethical problems

Talking of ethics, after talking to a pool of teachers on Twitter recently about PSHE and the way that is taught. A key message was drilled into me, the role of the teacher is to encourage ‘children to think but never judge them for what they do believe in. Encourage them to have their reasons.’ Therefore my resource will ask the questions but not give the answers ever. The rest of it is up to the teacher and the class.

Research strategy- Benkler, Y (2006) The Wealth of Networks. How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press; Research and development

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Although I have begun research, both primary and secondary as you can see from the progress I have made and stated in previous blogs, I am starting to look closer at my research strategies and what I aim to find from it.

The_Wealth_of_Networks_Book_cover

In the wealth of networks, Benkler talks about the difference between gaining information that has already been found before and gaining new information full of thoughts and opinions that are entirely new and innovative.

“Once a scientist has established a fact, or once Tolstoy has written War and Peace, neither the scientist nor Tolstoy need spend a single second on producing additional War and Peace manuscripts or studies for the one-hundredth, one-thousandth, or one-millionth user of what they wrote. The physical paper for the book or journal costs something, but the information itself need only be created once. “

To think of information as “nonrival”, suggesting that the informations consumption by one person does not make it any less available for consumption by another would suggest that existing information does not lose its value, and can be interpreted in plentiful ways without losing its credentials.

In relation to the development of my product, this would therefore suggest that I can use existing knowledge to my advantage.

Existing knowledge states that, the teaching of PSHE is famously awkward. Existing knowledge also shows that technology is increasingly favoured in the classroom.

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To combine this existing information into a whole new hybrid solution however, is to create something innovative and ‘rival’.

Therefore the research that I need to source, to develop something innovative needs to innovative itself. For example where I have asked ‘How does the use of interactive software aid you in your ability to teach?’ previously, I am now at the stage of asking ‘How would the use of interactive software aid you in your ability to teach PSHE?’.

In summary, Innovation is ‘would?’ rather than ‘does?’

Hardware, software , apps and all that jargon; Research and development

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I asked the question of the difference between all of the above on yahoo answers and these are the answers which I received.

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Application software is all the computer software that causes a computer to perform useful tasks beyond the running of the computer itself. A specific instance of such software is called a software applicationapplication programapplication or app.

The term is used to contrast such software with system software, which manages and integrates a computer’s capabilities but does not directly perform tasks that benefit the user. The system software serves the application, which in turn serves the user.

Examples include accounting software, enterprise software, graphics software, media players, and office suites. Many application programs deal principally with documents. Applications may be bundled with the computer and its system software or published separately, and can be coded as university projects.

Application software applies the power of a particular computing platform or system software to a particular purpose.

Some applications are available in versions for several different platforms; others have narrower requirements and are thus called, for example, a Geography application for Windows, an Android application for education, or Linux gaming. Sometimes a new and popular application arises which only runs on one platform, increasing the desirability of that platform. This is called a killer application.

Although I am not programme literate, distinguishing the difference between the platforms I will be encountering throughout my research has helped me to think more realistically about what I can achieve and how this can be done.

My Classroom resource in broader terms will, be a purchasable software from a platform such as Microsoft or the apple store whom both currently sell and supply downloadable software for Interactive White boards. Rather than a killer application, I would like to create a software which runs easily across all brands of boards for ease of use (if a supply teacher had a lesson planned with this software, they should be able to guarantee it to work on any interactive whiteboard the school uses), although as prometheus seems to be the most popular choice in the classroom this would be an ultimate priority if I could only opt for one brand. The software will use existing camera hardware technology that is already available on most IWB’s, however additional hardware can be purchased in addition to the software in the form of a camera that can be attached to an IWB without or with a poor quality integrated camera.

What makes a good PSHE resource? The role of the teacher; Research and Development

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As I talked about in my video pitch, the competition for classroom resources is definitely taking a modern and interactive slant.

Leading competitors
Leading competitors

Brainpop, is one of the most used resources in the classroom which holds some resemblance to what I would like to develop. I asked some teachers of the TES community, of whom I got it touch with via twitter their opinions on the software and gathered the general opinion.

Pro’s

Lot’s of subjects in one place.

Colour, more likely to engage.

Videos, illustrate key themes.

Con’s

Outdated flash animation

Difficult to assess progress

Easily used as a cop-out (Head teacher)

I have begun to devise a plan to use this research of existing products to develop something new and innovative which deals with the cons and makes advantage of the pros.

Focusing primarily on the likelihood of the software that I am developing being used as a ‘cop-out tool’, I have sent a short survey to experienced teachers and academics such as associates of the ‘Brainpop’ software itself and gathered some thoughts on what makes a good PSHE lesson. For my final project, for the module at least, I will develop a detailed lesson plan for the use of my innovation using this peer-research.

Thirty seconds after asking on twitter
Thirty seconds after asking on twitter
I got some useful feedback on the teaching of PSHE
I got some useful feedback on the teaching of PSHE

To create something which stays up to modern and upcoming standards, the graphics and context of the software will need to consistently updated.

P4C, as mentioned by this respondent, I discovered is an educational model for the teaching of philosophy for children which runs on four fundamental values:

  1. Collaborative – thinking with others
  2. Caring – thinking of others
  3. Critical – making reasoned judgements
  4. Creative – creating new ideas

Practiced in more than 60 countries, it is integral for me to note this widely approved approach in the teaching of PSHE where there are no right or wrong answers. The role of the teacher is important, and their job is to remain unbiased, and un-judgemental whilst encouraging there students to come to a conclusion. Even if there isn’t one, it is more about encouraging the child to look at their thinking.

Therefore with my software, given the scenario the class will be confronted with, there will be no right or wrong answers, just an opportunity for the class to discuss their feelings with the teacher as a medium of encouragement but not influence. It shall not be a doss lesson.

Banana slicers. Merci Maslow!; Research and development

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The banana slicer went through thorough development to become a product that would overcome that well known problem in life of…cutting bananas with greater ease. It’s not exactly changing the world, it might not even have anything but a novelty element and I want to create something which meets a real need with my product. That is to create an item that people need rather than want, and will not be shoved to the back of the cupboard in time…like a banana cutter.

Throughout my research I have found that, both teachers and students alike felt that an intervention was needed to aid in the teaching of PSHE. Even on a government scale the teaching of this has been discussed by the big cheeses which would suggest that, on the successful creation of my product, that there is a genuine need for it.

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The famous Maslow, created a hierarchy of basic human needs from physiological to the ultimate self-actualisation which every person instinctively desires, thus doing all of us product developers a great favour to what needs we should appeal to with our product. The idea of this hierarchy is, that you cannot reach self-actualisation without receiving the needs below, for example if you reach a high level of morality which reflects your ‘actual-self’ but you are starving, then life could be significantly better. All everybody wants is that utter fulfilment at the top, and advertising, essentially displays an illusion of how easy that could be.

This hierarchy above is just a basic template and can easily have lots of other fundamental needs added to it of which producers aim to appeal to, many of which overlap each other. At the start of my last workshop in developing my innovation we created a list of generic issues, such as conflict, poverty and racism. These issues on at least one level counteracted a need on the hierarchy of needs. For example, poverty is an issue because, food water and sleep are fundamental needs yet in impoverish conditions limit this.

With fundamental needs being pursued in mind, I have begun to develop the appeal of my classroom resource in resolving conflict. As a classroom resource for the next generation of children and how they think about Personal, social and health issues I believe my idea to me relevant to many issues.

My resource, will educate the next generation of children in issues from health, conflict resolution, environmental conservation and more. In a climate where teenage pregnancy, substance misuse and  first world poverty is on the rise but the relevant education has been placed on the back burner to reduce costs in an economic crisis, my interactive resource will bring children together in discussion of these important matters, in a low-cost pay once but versatile way which will make the teaching of these awkward taboo subjects not only enjoyable but life changing in the long run . This will ultimately reduce the long-term cost of current and future issues that the services increasingly face such as drug abuse.”  

Ten interesting and helpful-for-my-resource things about ‘Augmented reality’ I didn’t know before; Research and development

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1. AR, in its simplest form is a way in which the real world and the virtual world can be merged together. It works by overlapping digital data on-to real life analogue views.

My resource will merge the digital data of the pre-filmed scenario with the live analogue view of the student.

2. There are generally two approaches to AR, marker-based and location-based.

Markers work by having software recognise a particular pattern, such as a bar code or symbol, when a camera is pointed at it, it overlays a digital image at that point on the screen. If the image is 3D or animated, the effect is of a digital experience unfolding on the surface upon which the pattern is printed.

Location-based applications use the ability of a particular device to record its position in the world and then offer data that’s relevant to that location: finding your way around a city, remembering where you parked the car, naming the mountains around you or the stars in the sky.

My resource will use Marker technology. Rather than a pattern, the student will be overlaid over the pre-filmed scenario.

3. Currently most existing augmented reality applications rely on superimposing either 3D-generated computer imagery or some form of descriptive knowledge over the real-time images obtained through a camera, webcam or phone. This requires a good understanding of image processing and computer vision techniques, mainly for tracking either markers or the natural features on which this imagery is superimposed.

Computer-generated imagery has to look realistic and be properly aligned with the real environment in order to create an authentic impression. Most of the applications are designed for the general public so a good understanding of intuitive user interfaces is also required to provide a seamless experience.

Through my interview with a primary school teacher I found that using actors rather than animation was favoured as  a more real-life approach.  As the ‘scene’ and the student will both be real life but the student live and the scene pre-existing it will be important to overlap the two together realistically if it is to have a real-life effect.

4. AR developers chiefly need a mixture of advanced computer vision skills, 3D modelling and desktop, web or mobile programming. A grasp of 3D modelling should include texturing, shading and rendering.

Preferred programming languages can vary according to the platform but are usually C++ and C#.

Although I will not be programming the software myself, knowledge of the job requirements and the software needed will allow me to begin budgeting the money that this will require.

5.  The Dutch-based company Layar has a platform, or augmented reality browser, that runs on the iPhone 3G and Google’s Android. Layar works by using a combination of the mobile phone’s camera, compass and GPS data to identify the user’s location and field of view, retrieve data based on those geographical coordinates, and overlay that data over the camera view.

Qualcomm has also unveiled a new software development kit for the Google Android operating system that will make it easier for developers to create new augmented reality apps for devices running Google’s mobile operating system.

The fact that a software development kit is available on a mobile operating system would suggest that the development can be played with by lots of people with less experience than others. However, as my app will be for the interactive whiteboard I will have to look into this further as to how to make this compatible. My research with a primary school teacher revealed that, promethean was the most commonly used brand of IWB that she had encountered in her teaching so developing a software to work on this hardware would be highly advantageous and something which  I will look into. 

6. One of the simplest ways is to develop for an existing platform such as Layar is to join the thriving community of developers busy utilising the browser to deliver functionality.

C2K is one such developer with its Conquar game, which handles most of the game engine – usernames and logins etc – on the C2K server. Developers code in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) to the platform and Layar is then responsible for making it display on the iPhone and Android phones.

Through the API of Layar and JSON, developers can make use of the triggers such as a web view and also place action buttons such as watch video, listen to audio and call a phone number. This kind of data is provided with PHP.

Again, although I am not qualified to programme the resource myself it is worth noting where I should look in order to find software developers who are looking for work.

7.The world of retail is one sector with myriad opportunities for augmented reality applications, especially online. Here, the lack of the ‘try-on’ phase before buying for many products including fashion, jewellery, watches, glasses and home products is an incentive for companies to try out augmented reality applications.

Holition is one augmented reality retailer offering these real-time try on opportunities. This can be combined with providing extra information for the products being displayed.

Although Hilton uses a different approach to what I have in mind, when it comes to advertising my finished product and the development of future classroom resources their futuristic work is definitely worth a look at.

8.The technology offers many opportunities to support experiential and location-based learning by layering data and information on top of the real-world.

Adding historical context to a particular place, highlighting geometric shapes and hidden angles in buildings are just a couple of examples of ways that lessons could be brought to life.

The explosion in popularity of mobile phone apps offers hundreds of possibilities for educators to bring AR into the classroom with relative ease. Apps like Pocket Universe provide star maps relative to your location and offer educators the opportunity to bring objects that are traditionally seen ‘out there’ right into the classroom.

The existing competition with AR software in the classroom is both good and bad. The population suggests an ease of use and a good success rate whilst the negative is that I will have to develop something completely different, not just for the sake of a USP but also to avoid any copyright infringement with any intellectual property that I do not own. A recent meeting with a business mentor disclosed some details about the complicated copyright laws which come with software and apps, which I will do a blog about it in the near future.

9. Perhaps the biggest innovations will come when we step away from the screen. At the moment the majority of AR applications use a camera and screen of some kind, and while the effects are often spectacular, the screen still acts as a barrier.

  Thinking in terms of the classroom, the interactive whiteboard is an easily accessible tool, but is it too obvious?

10. AR has been around for a long time. One of the oldest examples is the double exposure technique by which the impression of a ghost can be created on stage. The military also equips pilots with goggles that provide a layer of radar data over the real-world view to enable them to target missile attacks.

I’m not sure how that can help but it s pretty cool.

 With huge credit to cwjobs!