Fabulous Public History via Augmented Reality

It is difficult to summarize a project that is used in so many different ways by different groups of people, and developed for different groups of people.  Augmented Reality is one of the most intriguing things about virtual-anything.  There is no limit to its uses, whether it be for a card company, i.e. Hallmark creating their e-card you have to hold up to a webcam to see the picture, the AR analyzer that allows you to analyze which size box you will need to ship your item with the Postal Service, or a car company using the technology to improve on, or innovate, a design; though my personal favorite is the Ray-Ban virtual mirror.

Postal Service AR

With so many companies using the augmented reality design, it is somewhat difficult to pinpoint the creator of the tool, though I would name Apple as the responsible party at this point.  There are several AR apps on virtually all smart phones, yet the first to have the historical significance was the iPhone.  Using this application can not only take you on a tour of historic places near where you are, or tell you where to go if you are vacationing somewhere, but can show you what was there one hundred years ago based on GPS technology.  The term “time-traveling tourism” is quite the proper term for this, in my opinion. The idea of time-travel is interesting to a large percentage of people around the world; it’s why Star Trek, Star Wars, and movies like Back to the Future are so popular.  Everyone wishes they could hop in the DeLorean and see what it was like back when.  Unfortunately, until Doc Brown reveals his secrets of creating a flux capacitor, we will have to rely on augmented reality and the years of history—photos, stories, and actors—that are used and involved in the process of making an application such as this.

The learning objectives of the application vary based on which company uses it, but for the most part, the smart phone applications use AR for historic purposes.  Or virtual soccer.  Though it seems awfully dangerous to stare at your feet and kick around.  Many of the articles that we were assigned to read involved AR, and they were for the purpose of educating visitors, or even local people, on the history of the place they were.  The learning objective is to make the program fun and interesting to more than one group of people, with options of either audio, visual, or both to cater to the learning preference of the viewer.  In places such as the Louvre, they have a tour of the museum that is on a screen that brings up a tiny virtual host at each exhibit.  In cities such as London and New York, taking a picture in an application using AR can overlay a photo, and even a story, of that exact location long ago (storyteller lingo).  It really IS like time travel!


Bringing this project to Boise would not, in my opinion, be a difficult feat.  Challenging? Yes.  Time consuming? Oh my!  Worth it?  Most definitely.  With so many things around Boise that basically only historians and history buffs know about, having something so interactive and able to cater to a specific learning preference would be greatly beneficial.

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Kate Hall

Born and raised in Boise, love it here. I love travel, history, Star Wars, Lost Boys, Highlander, and Super Nintendo. My favorite shirts say "My Other Ride Has A Flux Capacitor" and "Rock out with your Bach out." Basically, I would technically, I suppose, be classified as a 'nerd,' which I love. I currently intern at City Hall for the Department of Arts and History, mostly doing oral histories, but sometimes I get a cool research project. After I gradute I'll look for a job in History, find something to tide me over until then, and wait until education jobs are better in Idaho. =) Super excited about the chance to create a mobile application, been thinking already...plus I just loooove Leslie's classes (are you reading this?) =) Guess that's all! Perhaps more than you wanted, perhaps less. Perhaps I, myself, am caught betwixt the ideas of the two extremes and have decided to leave it as a cliffhanger of sorts.....

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