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How to Add Value to Your Reader’s Experience with Augmented and Virtual Reality

If you are a traditional educational book publisher, you have most likely asked yourself if adding an Augmented or Virtual Reality component to your books is a wise investment. You’ve seen some impressive demos of characters coming to life in 3D from a page and you think “that’s cool!” But then you ask yourself, “what’s the real value of having 3D whatoozis and whatnots dancing around the page?” Isn’t it just visual window dressing? Aren’t we trying to distinguish ourselves as an industry from our world’s growing obsession with content that’s all style and no substance?

We’ve had a chance to work on AR and VR projects with educational book publishers that have challenged us to expand our design thinking on how to best leverage these mediums to add value to reader’s experience. The parameters we have set for ourselves to explore design ideas for physical books have been simple:

  1. Any added digital component needs to complement and celebrate the book’s content as opposed to devaluing it.
  2. Any added digital content has to augment the physical book’s experience as opposed to duplicating it.
  3. The physical book needs to be able to stand on its own merit and provide a positive experience for the reader even if they choose not to access the digital content.

Today we share some of our main design thoughts on best practices for adding AR and VR to physical books:

Improve comprehension.

AR and VR both provide opportunities to make the page come alive in 3D. When thinking about what content to bring to life, think about what visual models, representations, or systems you have on a flat page that could be easier to understand in a 3D space. Additionally, these mediums are excellent for books that contain step-by-step 2D instruction since VR and AR can animate the experience in 3D and provide a 360-degree view. In this video, we’ve created a quick prototype to demonstrate how a step-by-step origami book could be brought to life with AR.

Provide an immersive perspective and context.

VR can take abstractions or descriptions of experiences and transform them into first-hand, personal events. Things like the scale of the Coliseum or beauty of the ocean can be described or even illustrated, but that’s a different matter then feeling like “I’ve been there.”

Spark Engagement.

The interactivity and novelty of a VR or AR experience can highlight content for users, getting them to share an intrinsic interest in the details, visualizations, and experiences being imparted.

While these are some general design ideas that can apply to most educational books, we are most interested in design ideas that are unique and tailored to an individual book or series of books’ content. If you would like to discuss a potential AR or VR project for a physical book project, please drop us a line!


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