The Layers(ars) of History Around Us

Published:January 12, 2010 by Matthew

In a Washington Post article from November, Rob Pegoraro investigates the burgeoning world of “augmented reality”–a concept that makes your mobile phone (as of right now it has to be phone working on the Android or iPhone platforms) into a tool that uncovers layers of information in the world around you.

Let’s take this faux scenario: say you want to see how much the houses in your neighborhood sold or are selling for. You pick up your phone, open up a mobile app like Layar or Wikitude, pull up the local real estate dataset in that application, point the phone’s camera at the buildings around you and the screen is populated with hyperlinked dots you might click on for further information (e.g. price, amenities, etc.).

Well, if you can do this for real estate, why not for the historical events that have occurred and are occurring around us? What if you had historical events pinpointed to specific enough locations to deploy to these applications? Well, we’ve been playing with this idea at Encyclopedia Virginia. We already have a large dataset of geolocated event points that is tied to entries that add to one’s understanding of the events that occurred at those points. Check out these two proofs of concept:

and this one:

Someone asked me recently if I thought this endeavor and use of EV content was a bit overwrought and a waste of time. If you consider the rapid increase in market share that devices like the iPhone, Droid, and the new Nexus One are grabbing, and the potential uses in education and tourism that apps like Layar open up, then I’d have to say this is time well wasted.

1 Comment on “The Layers(ars) of History Around Us”

  1. Lisa K

    That is full of awesome! We’re history geeks enough to use it, but so far all we can afford is a second-hand iTouch, so we’re not always online.

    Keep working on it, and we’ll save our money to upgrade! 😉

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