“AR makes learning more illustrative and interactive”

says Eirik Wahlstrøm, CEO and Co-founder of Ludenso, which offers augmented reality authoring tool built specifically for publishers to provide a seamless link between print and digital content. Excerpts.

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Eirik Wahlstrøm is a visionary doer who has co-founded two XR startups and is passionate about empowering all educators and learners with the opportunities Augmented Reality provides. He is CEO of Ludenso and founded the startup, along with co-founders Harald Manheim and Ingrid Skrede, in 2018, to spearhead the innovative AR revolution, bringing AR books to students worldwide.

Ludenso is a leading augmented reality (AR) authoring platform, built specifically for publishers. Here, Eirik Wahlstrøm, CEO and co-founder of Ludenso, shares more about their solutions.

AABP: Could you provide an overview of your company’s mission and the specific AR solutions you offer for textbooks?

Eirik: At Ludenso, we empower all educators and learners through the use of augmented reality (AR) technology. Our world-first augmented reality authoring tool built specifically for publishers provides a seamless link between print and digital content. It consists of a drag-and-drop studio to easily create AR books, an app where students can explore 3D models, and an analytics dashboard. Tracking how printed textbooks are being used is an important first step for publishers in making data-driven decisions for new editions.

AABP: How does your AR technology enhance the educational experience compared to traditional textbooks? Are there any success stories or case studies that showcase its effectiveness?

Eirik: The AR app allows all students to better understand the content of their textbooks. Whether video, audio, or through 3D models, they can learn about chemical processes, or see extinct animals come to life. Research by independent institutions also shows the benefits of using AR. For example, 82% of students find AR lessons helpful compared to conventional lessons.

We have been working with the University of Oslo, the University of Stavanger, and Norsk Regnesentral (NR) on research projects. The initial results show great promise for students with learning disabilities, as it gives a more practical and fun angle to learning.

AABP: How do students and educators typically react to the integration of AR in textbooks?

Eirik: The students immediately get it, and learn how to use the app in seconds, which quickly becomes part of their learning toolbox.

Educators are interested in learning how to implement the technology naturally into their teaching. Last year we learned that for educators to feel confident using AR, we needed to adapt it to work seamlessly with a big screen in front of the classroom. We expanded the platform to have a web viewer educators can access on their PCs, and feedback was that it was an easy way to engage students, and communicate complex processes or visual concepts faster.

AABP: Are there any challenges or barriers to adoption that you’ve encountered, and how do you address them?

Eirik: One challenge we faced is the need for the internet when accessing AR through textbooks, which is why we made the 3D models accessible offline. Now students only need internet access when they download the book experiences, and then these resources are accessible offline, allowing for flexibility.

AABP: Can you describe the process of integrating your AR technology into existing educational materials or curricula? How user-friendly is the implementation for schools and institutions?

Eirik: Ludenso’s drag-and-drop studio enables publishers to easily create AR elements for their textbooks, tailoring the content to their book. It’s done by the subject matter experts, and therefore by design integrated in the existing curriculum. Students just download the app, or they can use the web-platform. Both are straightforward to use, done in minutes, and save students from navigating through conventional learning portals.

AABP: How is the content created for AR-enhanced textbooks, and can educators or institutions customise it to align with their specific teaching objectives?

Eirik: 3D content can be added in three ways: publishers already have 3D content to use; authors request 3D models from existing 3D model libraries; or we use our internal 3D models experts to make the models. If an author wants to tailor a 3D model to their book, by adding animations or changing colours for example, they can do so within Ludenso’s platform.

A common misconception, however, is to think that AR-enhanced textbooks are just about 3D-models. One of the most powerful ways to use the platform is to embed existing multimedia assets, such as videos, quizzes and audio clips, connecting the physical and digital through AR image recognition.

AABP: How does your company ensure that AR-enhanced textbooks are accessible to students with disabilities or diverse learning needs?

Eirik: AR is an incredibly useful tool to help students that struggle to learn through the traditional methods – it makes learning more illustrative and interactive.

We are currently in the final stages of a research project on accessibility, to empower students with dyslexia, ADHD, and other neurodiverse profiles. We see AR as an opportunity to help engage with these students in a new way.

AABP: What platforms and devices are compatible with your AR enhanced textbooks?

Eirik: Mobiles and tablets that are AR compatible work with our AR-enhanced textbooks, and our recent web-viewer enables easy access to the multimedia content on Chromebooks and computers. We are curious about the future of Vision Pro, but at the moment we are focusing on optimising the experience for the 3bn+ devices that support AR, as well as making the content accessible to everyone through a 3D-viewer and the web-viewer.

AABP: Could you provide insights into your pricing models for AR-enhanced textbooks?

Eirik: We offer subscription services and pricing per title. For the latter, the price per title decreases the more titles the publishers want to work on. The pricing has come down significantly since we first started working with publishers three years ago by around 90%. Scaling the platform means we can offer our solutions at a price that makes our technology commercially viable for any publisher wanting to implement AR.

AABP: Are there any notable partnerships or collaborations your company has formed with educational institutions, publishers, or other organisations to further integrate AR into education?

Eirik: We have recently announced a number of exciting partnerships worldwide with renowned publishers, including Books of Discovery, Cambridge University Press, Sage, Plantyn, Gyldendal, Natur & Kultur, OpenStax, and Karger.

AABP: How do you envision the future of education with AR technology, and what role does your company play in that vision?

Eirik: We envision a seamless fusion of the physical and digital worlds in the future, enriching the physical environment with interactive digital content. We believe in a future where students not only explore AR-enhanced educational materials, but also become creators of their own AR experiences. Our aim is to simplify, streamline, and enhance the integration of AR into education, making it both convenient and engaging, revolutionising the way we learn and teach.

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