Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grassroots Design: The Civil War Augmented Reality Project

How can we get people interested in important (but let's face it, sometimes a little boring) historical sites?

The Civil War Augmented Reality Project may be one way to answer that question.

Jeff Mummert, who teaches history at York College and Hershey High School in Pennsylvania, is part of a group of educators that is trying to leverage technologies like GPS-enabled smart phones or tablet-type computers to enhance the experiences of visitors to Civil War sites.

Their idea is to give visitors opportunities to interact with 3D models or historical photos, for example, in the historical context of particular geographical locations.

A nice twist of the project is the intended use of the traditional "pay binocular" station as a mechanism to engage users who either do not have access to tablet PCs and smart phones, or who are too "technology shy" to be willing to try out such devices.  Instead, such users can use the more familiar binocular interface to experience some AR aspects of the project.

It seems like the group is off to a great start!  You can find out more about the project, including how to support their efforts, via their blog.

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  1. This is pretty amazing and I could see lots of potential. I had a similar personal experience in the Spotsylvania area: I had the good fortune to encounter Frank O'Reilly at one of the visitor centers and he lined up a tour for me that retracted my great-grandfather's time there during the battle of the Wilderness. Talk about making history come alive. Maybe this virtual approach can provide something similar for other visitors.

  2. What a great concept. I'd love to see more Smartphone-inspired public exhibits pop up around the country. It's a great opportunity to connect people with important places.