AR childrens books – Research

So this blog and research project popped up in my Twitter feed (@Em_Hogan_) this morning. It’s an interesting overview of research into augmented reality apps conducted by Professor Jackie March at the University of Sheffield.

Included is a link to study TechandPlay aimed ‘to examine pre-school children’s use of apps on tablets and identify how far apps for pre-school children (aged 0-5), including apps that incorporate augmented reality, promote play and creativity.’ Results of the study are very nicely presented with outputs catering for a range of different audiences (effective thinking around impact for different audience segments). Included in downloads is a full report and also tailored reports for Parents and Caregivers, Early Years Practitioners, Children’s Media Industry and Briefing for Policy-Makers.

I’m working through the ‘Children’s Media Industry’ report (Marsh et al.) and finding lots of interesting nuggets. A characteristic of apps identified as limiting play and creativity is the use of augmented reality features that simply animate characters or objects. The issue cited is that ‘children cannot utilise fully the animated features and may disengage’. (p.14) I’ll need to explore this further in line with initial ideas for my practice project as immediate content ideas are around animations but perhaps could include more interactive AR content.

There are some strong guidelines for designing apps that promote play and creativity cited including identifying a clear purpose, design aesthetics and scaffolding. (p.15)

An issue for my project is that the report identifies that ‘Parents favour educational and story apps, whereas children prefer using video/audio apps and visual play and drawing apps’ (p.9) This might be problematic for my story app and merits further research…

Marsh, J., Plowman, L., Yamada-Rice, D., Bishop, J.C., Lahmar, J., Scott, F., Davenport, A., Davis, S., French, K., Piras, M., Thornhill, S., Robinson, P. and Winter, P. (2015) Exploring Play and Creativity in Pre-Schoolers’ Use of Apps: Report for the Children’s Media Industry. Accessed at:


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