University Politehnica of Bucharest (ROMANIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 8354-8361
ISBN: 978-84-09-14755-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2019.1986
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
Reading is an important skill to have in life and is the brick of any learning activity, therefore a great effort must be made during school years to develop it. Although many ways of reading have been promoted in order to improve reading skills, reading is still something that remained problematic to people. In the same time, the emergence of new technologies transformed physical books and libraries into something deprecated, disregarding the fact that a big amount of information is only available in those books and must be passed somehow to the millennials. We propose a solution to bring books into current technological era and to sharp the reading skills of today’s young generation, by using Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

As VR and AR technologies have evolved in the last couple of years, more and more interest has been shown in this domain. This was mainly due to the hardware getting stronger and becoming much cheaper than it used to be. Nowadays, users could use a simple smartphone and a cheap headset to run any VR and AR application. The process of developing such an application has also become easier and nowadays it is done with the use of game engines. While our solution is not a game, it was developed using game engines. Our application combines AR and VR in order to show how these technologies can be used in education to change the way people read. The effect of VR and AR applications on secondary school students’ reading comprehension and learning permanency was proved by other studies and was the starting point for establishing the functionalities of “Reading ARound Reality” app. Also, similar applications exists, but neither of them exploits both VR and AR to build, create, and construct meaning while reading from physical books. Our main purpose was to make the reading experience of any book more interactive and more immersive, especially for younger children. We piloted our idea for children book about animals. The main objective was to develop an app which displays different 3D model representations of animals over the pictures of the respective real animal or fish in a custom-made book with some additional theoretical aspects along using AR. The same 3D models were used to implement VR scenes of the animals and to show them in their habitat.

Various advantages were underlined while developing and testing the application: it is suitable for different reading styles; it provides a more natural way of interacting with technology than a simple desktop application would; it will draw the attention to the content because of a more fun and interactive study environment; it can be applied on almost any type of subject/study; it can make studying/reading an easier, a more enjoyable and a more interactive task; it is easy to install on any mobile phone (Android Lollipop 5 or higher with a good enough camera and processor); it does not require high end hardware; it provides a learning environment, a viewing environment and a test environment that can be applied to any existing book or future books and can easily be implemented by publishing companies if they decide to use it. In the paper, we describe the argumentation of using emergent technologies to revive reading, the functionalities and technological details of developing our own application based on VR and AR.
Augmented reality, virtual reality, reading skills.