If you're someone who loves to read, you've probably read a book that made you want to hop into the story and live in the world that wasn't your own. Reading has a way of letting us escape into other worlds and experience things that we normally wouldn't be able to. Augmented reality is similar in that way. Which is why it makes sense that the two would be combined to create an incredible, immersive new way of reading.
'The Dragon Brothers' is an adventure series written by James Russell for children. The series includes picture books as well as novels, and both of them encourage readers to download an app so that they may take a step into the world of the Dragon Brothers, Flynn and Paddy.
According to Stuff, Russell started writing these stories for his sons which he then published. Coming up with the idea of using augmented reality to help engage his readers came from his own experience:
I remember reading books when I was young and I would be lying in bed with my heart thumping because it was such an exciting book. I thought it was amazing how a book could elicit this reaction so I wanted to do something that makes these books as exciting as possible.
— James Russell, Author
The augmented reality feature certainly succeeds in doing that. In order to access the feature, readers must download the free AR Reads app available on the App Store or on Google Play. The app is made specifically for the Dragon Brothers series so as soon as it's downloaded, readers can point it at the book and begin.
The new novel by Russell, 'The Dragon Defenders" has five pieces of AR to find throughout it. The series' website says that using the AR feature:
You can meet the evil Pitbull, find out how his men reached the island and what they are there to do, and see the Mother's Knee Hill come to life!
There are certain pages in the book that are marked with 'augmented reality spots'. Once the phone hovers over the page, 3D images begin to appear including 3D maps, dragons flying about the room, and even the main characters trotting along on their adventure.
Image by James Russell / YouTube
The book was first released in Australia, where Russell lives, and was a hit there. It's just been released in the US, and Russell is hopeful that it will get the same reaction:
I thought there would be a backlash but 99.9% of people are really into it. It's a two minute distraction and they're still going to spend five hours reading the book. I get so many parents emailing me telling me they're chuffed because their kids won't go to bed, they want to keep reading.
— James Russell, Author
Innovation like what Russell has done with 'The Dragon Brothers" could change the way we read altogether. Imagine reading through 'The Lord of the Rings" series and seeing the Eye of Sauron appear before you, or watching Harry and friends fly across pages on their broomsticks while reading "Harry Potter." Not only that but in a world where children are into technology at a very young age, this is a new way to keep reading alive as it combines the best of both worlds.
For a free trial, readers can print out a picture of the map of Flynn and Paddy's world on their website and test the app to see a 3D version of the map appear right in front of them. The books are available in the US now at most bookstores and online.