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Blackboard Adds Augmented Reality to Campus iPhone Apps

Blackboard has added augmented reality (AR) to its Blackboard Mobile Central platform, giving college students the opportunity to take enhanced informational tours of their campus and surroundings.

The first campuses to use the technology, which leverages the iPhone's camera, GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass, are Central Washington University, Florida Atlantic University, Marshall University, North Dakota State College of Science, Northern Illinois University, and The University of Arizona.

AR is designed to let students use the iPhone to explore their surroundings and to navigate the campus and its buildings, including moving through a dormitory complex or "even see(ing) a bus blocks away moving in real time," according to information released by the company. The Blackboard AR application also lets users point their smartphones at campus buildings to learn the building's name, significance, hours of operation, and historical information, the company said.

In addition to AR, Blackboard launched Explorer for iPhone as a free standalone application leveraging the AR interface. With Explorer, the company said, users anywhere can explore spaces beyond the campus.

The AR application will be used as a marketing tool by the North Dakota State College of Science, said Barbara Spaeth-Baum, executive director of college relations and marketing, in a news release.

"The primary goal of our marketing group is to recruit and retain students through integrated, engaging campaigns and the launch of AR with NDSCS Mobile fits perfectly into that strategy," said Spaeth-Baum.

In related news, Blackboard also updated its Blackboard Mobile Central campus tours experience by enabling users to listen to recorded audio while exploring the campus map and view tour routes in both map and list views while using AR to identify buildings along the way.

Blackboard Mobile Central is packaged with a suite of features within a single institution-branded application of 14 modules and the option to develop custom applications. The app is available for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and WebOS, as well as a mobile version that supports all Web-enabled devices, the company said.

Visit blackboard.com or explorer.medu.com for more information.

About the Author

Jim Barthold is a freelance technology reporter. He can be reached at jimbarthold@comcast.net.

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