Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Oxford Brookes academics involved in Augmented Reality project; ‘The Reading Machine’

Tuesday, 26 September 2017


Dr. Eric White and Dr. John Twycross (senior lecturers in American Literature and Digital Media Production, respectively), have been instrumental in bringing to life an ambitious augmented reality (AR) project called ‘The Reading Machine’

The project is based upon the vision of 20th-century poet and writer Bob Brown, who first developed the idea in the 1930s. He wanted to create a mechanism in which the reader could physically engage with the flow of text. Dr. White has developed a version where the user can interact and alter the flow of text using real-time animation and pre-set videos.

Dr White commented “The Reading Machine is more than simply a high-tech project: it has extensive implications not only for the Humanities but for multiple fields. For instance, famed British writer Ian Sinclair has produced specially commissioned texts for the Machine.

“We were keen to make the project respect the fundamentals underlying Brown’s vision, one which disrupts the boundary between the linearity of text and the multidimensionality of space. Additionally, I  travelled to Victoria University British Columbia, to introduce the project to a global network of experts, and I am pleased to say that it was very well received!”. 

’The Reading Machine’ has also been used to engage with non-academic groups, such as Maker communities around Oxford. “The idea is that maker communities help inform our design process and discover new approaches to augmented reality reading, while also giving a new platform for readers and writers to get their voices heard.” Additionally, Dr. White plans to build a new version of the machine in collaboration with disadvantaged youths.

If you’d like more information on ‘The Reading Machine project, please contact Dr White at ewhite@brookes.ac.uk