By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘Making Learning More Interactive’While augmented reality and publishing usually are on the same page in children’s books, a newly announced partnership between a publisher of physical-therapy manuals and Oslo’s platform Ludenso are demonstrating new value in augmented reality for therapeutic specialists.
As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, the still-young Ludenso surfaced shortly after its operations had opened, in a partnership with Cambridge University Press and Assessment last year. At that time, Ludenso introduced itself as an augmented-reality authoring tool, letting publishers “enrich either existing or new textbook titles with 3D models, embedded videos, audio clips, or links.”
Today (August 17), the Norwegian company is talking up another partnership, this time with Books of Discovery, a company seated in Boulder, Colorado. And, of course, artificial intelligence is also something Ludenso’s team is looking at, as we’ll get to shortly.
Books of Discovery, founded in the mid-1990s, says that it publishes foundational manual therapy textbooks and educational resources internationally, for more than 3,000 programs the work of which includes preparing students for athletic-training careers; massage therapy; occupational therapy; physical therapy; and associated bodywork and health-care professions.
What will jump out at many publishing pros is the fact that this is a welcome departure for the context in which we normally hear of news around augmented reality: In most cases, international book publishing has focused on augmented reality in children’s content. We’ve all seen the dinosaur who stands up and walks around on the page when viewed with an augmented-reality app. At times it seems like an animated descendant of View-Master—crisp, lifelike, vivid, impressive.
But as cute or clever or charming as some of these usages surely are, they form an unintentional overhang casting a shadow on augmented reality. For that matter, virtual reality suffers the same set of assumptions. It appears to many to be for gaming youngsters and many Peter or Petra Pans who’d like to remain youngsters. These technologies haven’t always been seen for their potential efficacy in the more “grown-up” fields of publishing.
To Lundenso and Books of Discovery, the framework provided by augmented reality is a highly practical one for the serious business of bodywork.
Exactly what is the proper positioning and movement of the hands when a therapist needs to manipulate the muscles on either side of a spine? The Ludenso-Books of Discovery partnership can show a professional trainer just that.
Books of Discovery’s signature title is Andrew Biel’s Trail Guide to the Body, now being sold in a sixth edition and standing as the anchor in a series of books. The materials with which the company presents and sells Biel’s US$82.95 heavily illustrated manual can obviously be animated in augmented reality to help a bodywork student understand a specific element of therapeutic dynamics.
Not all of Books of Discovery’s list is just for professional practitioners. One volume in the “Trail Guide,” the Quick Reference to Stretch and Strengthen, is a book sold not only to practitioners but also to students and patients, with 47 exercises for strengthening and stretching.
Again, the potential for augmented reality’s capacity to demonstrate correctly performed movements makes sense, reinforcing the potential place of such animation in adult professional literature as well as in the more commonly seen children’s book anecdotes.
Indeed, in some instances, Books of Discovery’s list is very much on the deep end of the physical therapy pool, clearly supporting career professionals in the field, with, for example, The Ethics of Touch, now in its third edition, from Ben Benjamin, PhD, and Cherie Sohnen-Moe.
This is another obvious candidate for precise illustration animated for clarity by augmented reality.
‘The Power To Expand Our Textbooks’
Eirik G. Wahlstrøm, Ludenso’s CEO, is quoted in today’s media messaging, calling Books of Discovery, “a respected publisher renowned for their commitment to innovative educational resources.
“Together, we will push the boundaries of traditional textbooks,” Wahlstrøm says, “and provide students with an unparalleled learning [experience].
“Our augmented reality [process], combined with Books of Discovery’s expertise, will revolutionize the way students engage with educational content, making learning more interactive, captivating, and effective.”
And Tim Herbert, vice-president of educator relations at Books of Discovery, says, “This partnership opens the door for students’ immediate access to digital content, through mobile devices, while on our printed pages.
“Augmented reality has the power to expand our textbooks and become a gateway to immersive learning, transforming traditional methods, and empowering a new generation of learners.”
Distributors of Books of Discovery’s output are located in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, India, Israel, New Zealand, Russia, South America, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, as well as in the States.
And Ludenso’s partners now include not only Cambridge but also Aschehoug and Sage and the anatomy-book company Lotus Publishing, the draw being the company’s drag-and-drop platform capabilities for bringing augmented reality to “3D models, embedded videos, links, and audio support.”
AI: ‘Generative Content Is Here To Stay’
Predictably, Ludenso now is making a pitch for “creating 3D models with generative AI” as offering “a promising future for augmented reality in education.
“Much like we are now able to give a text prompt to an AI program and get a 2D picture in return, we’re starting to see the early possibilities of doing the same within 3D,” the company writes in an article on its site. AR-AI, the team asserts, already is at hand.
“The models that currently are showing the most potential,” according to Ludenso’s article, “start with a prompt from the user, much like one would prompt a platform like Midjourney today in order to render a 2D image via AI.
“The prompt is used to first generate 2D images via text to image generators like stable diffusion, Dall-E or Midjourney. These images are then used to train AI to generate a 360 ‘video’ of a 3D object. This video is called NeRF, which in turn can be used to create a 3D model.”
Here’s a promotional video from Books of Discovery about Andrew Biel’s Trail Guide to Movement: