If a book opened in front of you, and people started speaking to you from the printed page, you might think you were in a Harry Potter movie – but in fact you could be reading the new Borders College prospectus for courses beginning in 2013.
“Utilising the latest Augmented Reality (AR) technology, the pages of the college course information book really do speak for themselves,” writes the Galashiels college’s Cameron Reith, the man responsible for the project.
“Featuring more than 18 ARs, students talk about why they decided to come to one of Scotland’s top-performing colleges from the very pages of the prospectus,” he added, “along with a number of short feature videos highlighting some key areas within the college.”
How does it work? Well, simply explained, AR embeds additional content (perhaps a video) into a printed document such as a poster or prospectus. The user downloads an application – or app – onto their smart phone, and then points their phone at predetermined places in the document.
The app sees this area and plays a video, from YouTube, into the smartphone, thus giving the user some additional information in a way not previously possible.
As part of the promotion of the new app, the college was given a giant model iPhone.
Describing the project’s background, Mr Reith added: “Last year’s prospectus won second place in the Scotland’s Colleges marketing awards, and the feedback from the students’ judging panel was that they would like to see more testimonials from their peers.
“So with this in mind, we developed the interactive model with our students speaking directly to the users of the new prospectus.”
Proudly, he revealed how the idea was first conceived by a graduate of Heriot-Watt University in Galashiels.
“Dumfries design company, Weesleekit, won the contract to design and implement the new technology,” he said.
“By coincidence, a Heriot-Watt University student from Scottish Borders Campus, Freya Skinner, who was on summer placement with Weesleekit, came up with the concept and developed the idea of the retro look to this year’s prospectus – which is an interesting contradiction – when you consider the technology that is embedded in the document.
Mr Reith went on to say: “We met with various groups of students to get their opinion on the new concept and design, and were given a wholehearted thumbs-up with what we were planning.”
Most recently, top TV chef Jamie Oliver also spiced up his new TV series and cookbook using the same Augmented Reality software as Borders College, as have the Rolling Stones, Kylie Minogue, Sony and The Sun. You can order a copy of the prospectus from the Borders College website www.borderscollege.ac.uk.