Will History disappear, if we can “see” the past?

Augmented Reality, let's us relive History

Augmented Reality, let’s us relive History

What if we could harness Technology, to educate and stimulate the younger generation to value and cherish tradition but in a non text book manner, and thus impart education to them with help from the same devices that they seem hooked onto. In effect, hijack these devices in an interesting way, so as to break into a students “Digital Personal Space” which they are not so keen to give up that easily. – This is the key to the future of education – Taking History outdoors and bringing History to the present.

(the old Berlin wall, and the site as it stands today)

Harnessing Augmented Reality creatively, in Education:

With advances in technology and the penetration of Smart Phones such as the Iphone and Google Andriod based phones, it is soon becoming de-facto for smart phones to have built in digital compasses, accelerometers, GPS and a camera. These devices are now so sophisticated, they become the ideal Technology tools that educators can harness to take the distracting aspects out of them (endless, txting, gaming , tweeting etc) and use them creatively to make education fun again, taking education out of the confines of a classroom and bringing it in-situ and outdoors. What better subject than History.

Apps – are the little bits of software that do all the magic on smart phones. The Apple iTunes online store and Google Andriod market place are where kids spend a lot of time (and money) buying or downloading these software programs. Augmented Reality, a technology that superimposes CGI (computer generated imagery) over the live view of a camera and in the correct perspective and registration- thus “augments” the real world. Though not new, it was previously limited to wearing a futuristic contraption such as a helmet with a camera on top and some visor or head mounted LCD display to make Augmented Reality (AR) portable. Today’s  Smart Phones can do it easily and fit inside a pocket.

Layar - Abbey Rd augmented (image credit: Engadget)

The Beatles Abbey Rd AR (image credit: Engadget)

Some note worthy apps are Layar, WikiTude and Junaio. These applications allow a person to “annotate” the living living world. It’s actually blurring the line between the Digital and the real world. These Digital annotations can be seen when looking through the viewfinder or at the LCD display of a Smart Phone while aiming the devices camera at any outdoor (or indoor) location. The in-built digital compass, Gps and accelerometer help to accurately give position and orientation data to render the CGI in correct perspective so that the final output is a seamless blend of CGI over the visual of the real world.

Taking History outdoors via Augmented Reality:

This project has been inspired by the very creative short ads that run on the History Channel TV network – Know Where You Stand, one of the examples is in the video clip above. The video was edited traditionally in a studio and uses simple blending of the current location, and superimposes some memorable History on to it.

The video above is the location of the Hindenburg Disaster. In the Know Where You Stand, augmented reality project, we could take such great moments in History that have been documented either in Video, or images and geo-tag them to the actual locations where they occured. For incidents in History where no archival video material is available, or for History that may be from older centuries, with the use of audio, images and drawings, new material can be created.

learn history outdoors

Learn history outdoors

Using the annotate tools in the apps of Wikitude, Layar and Junaio, such multimedia content can reside in a Digital world, waiting to be revealed to all just by switching on the camera on a smart phone. It is a much more absorbing way to learn about our past and keep history alive.

The Junaio application allows you to actually have animated 3d objects placed at different locations. Re-animating ancient battles and wars at the actual locations, brings a whole new dimension to learning and keeps History alive! As any place on Earth can be annotated or “geo-tagged”, this will promote the learning of History and heritage when visiting these different countries.

These  “Digital Ghosts”, will be inhabiting our world alongside us, waiting to be revealed through the View Finder of a Smart phone, and in the next few years via digital sunglasses such as those fromVuzix. This will further blur the line between our present world and History – So will History be “history” if it’s always living with us?

Dirrogates – Transhumanism and The Singularity:

Ideas from this article are used in plot and world-building in the hard science novel: Memories with Maya, featuring digital resurrection of people – Dirrogates.

What is a Dirrogate? A Digital Surrogte of a living (or dead) person. Read “Memories With Maya” to learn more about how Augmented Reality, Quantum Archeology and AI may change our lives within the next few decades.