Augmented Reality: Is this the Future of Plant Records?

Waheed Arshad, PhD
February 2, 2021

The Plant Records Webinar series kicked off on Thursday 3rd December with Dr Waheed Arshad discussing the exciting future of Augmented Reality (AR) in the context of plastic-free plant labelling, botanic garden visitation and the communication of plant collections.

It was the first of Botanical Software’s new series of interactive topics and themed discussions on plant records, held on the first Thursday of every second month. Over 30 delegates joined the session on this popular topic, which covered an introduction to the “extended reality” realm, use of AR in Candide Gardening’s iOS app “Candide Labels” and the key components involved in making a successful AR experience for garden visitors.

In short, AR is an enhanced version of the real world. Though it has science-fiction roots dating back over a hundred years, recent AR releases (most notably the “ARQuake” game in 2000 and the design tool “ARToolkit” in 2009) have led to a technological explosion. As a result, AR software is becoming increasingly complex, popular and affordable. From sound and video, to animations and graphical overlays, the digital content responds in real time to changes in the user’s environment, opening up a world of exciting possibilities for phone and tablet users.

In the webinar, we discussed potential AR applications in the context of gardens. One such example was in the interpretative reinvigoration of botanic gardens’ systematic beds. With constant advancements in plant taxonomy and changes in climate/seasonality, these beds often require intensive garden resources to maintain. In many gardens, therefore, AR could support the somewhat uninterpreted, untapped potential of systematic beds.

The webinar concluded with a lively debate on how AR may play a future role in botanic gardens and how exciting technologies can engage a myriad of consumers. It is thought that the number of AR users will soon reach 1 billion, with the AR market having a value of over 60 billion US dollars in 2023. AR-compatible devices are increasing, not only with flagship models, but also on a number of mid-range smartphones too. Coupled with the rise of 5G and more precise location triangulation technologies, the future of plant records looks bright.

Join us on February 4th: Measuring garden performance

The next installment in the webinar series will be this Thursday (4th February), where we will look at ways in which the performance of botanic gardens can be measured—be it through monitoring and curating plant collections, or through visitation and public education. Join us as we discuss the multifaceted roles of botanic gardens and the potential range of success measures available to garden curators and staff. For more details on how to sign up, visit:

Seedlings showing examples of Key Performance Indicator keywords

As usual, this and other webinars from our series will be available to view on the Botanical Software Youtube Channel:

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