The evolution of the digital age never ceases to amaze us. We continue to develop new and improved ways to utilize social media; we are constantly adapting to technological changes that come with it; and we are using it in tandem with traditional methods of outreach to connect with every generation. A recently implemented augmented reality application has taken that last statement to its utmost literal interpretation in the city of Philadelphia.
Let’s first look at the definition of augmented reality. According to Wikipedia.com, augmented reality is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. Augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements.
Now that we have a better understanding of what augmented reality is, we can discuss what Philadelphia is planning on doing with it. In a recent press release, the city was awarded a grant to create an augmented reality prototype that would allow users the ability to view digital data on the view of the current world. According to PhillyHistory.org, this would be done by utilizing a combination of the GPS and camera technologies available on contemporary smart phones. The smart phone application would then enable users to view historic photographs from PhillyHistory.org as overlays on the current urban landscape. For example, if you were to look at a modern building in real-time with your smart phone, the augmented app would create a digital landscape of what used to be in that exact location. And according to the press release, the cool thing is, once an augmented reality application has been downloaded to a user’s smart phone, there is no need to access a traditional website or even enter a street address or other search criteria in order to use it. The augmented reality data appears as an overlay on the camera display and can be paged through much like standard web pages.
The plan, for now, is for the application to focus on several neighborhoods around the downtown area. The goal of this Philadelphia-based application would be to share the city’s heritage with students, architects, historians, tourists and other users in an entirely new way. This would be a tremendous leap in social and digital media technology. While the project is still in its planning stages, if it is eventually approved and implemented, it would only be a matter of time before every major city catches on to the technology.
“The project is a true commitment from the City of Philadelphia, funders, and the public to make history freely accessible to all,” said Joan Decker, Commissioner of the Department of Records.
Did you ever think there would be a point in time when looking back to the past would be as real as what this prototype promises to accomplish?
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