kindAReal: augmenting the Irish cultural heritage experience

Frank Lynam BA TCD, MPhil CAM

Digital Arts and Humanities PhD candidate

Trinity College Dublin

Augmented Reality has only very recently become a term familiar to a significant proportion of the population. And yet, the technique has had a long and ironically in some cases quite visible history, being used to deliver real-time sports information on our televisions for example. For one reason or other, however, not least the explosion of mobile technologies, proponents of AR would argue that we are now on the cusp of an ‘AR age’, in which projects such as the keenly anticipated Google Glass will become the standard bearers for a new era of technological engagement.

But what exactly is AR and is it adequate that it be considered solely from a technological point of view? Might AR not have the potential to fundamentally affect the ways in which we engage with our material realities including those of a cultural heritage sort, and, therefore, does its use not raise as many philosophical questions as anything else?

This paper discuses these matters in the context of kindAReal, an iPhone app and website project that has been developed by the author. kindAReal users are empowered to create their own heritage site tours that contain georeferenced image, audio and text information. Tours can then be downloaded onto the iOS app and their content accessed using a context-aware AR-enabled live camera view. kindAReal’s objective is to positively affect the experience that we have of Irish heritage sites by using AR and geospatially aware mobile technology to deliver relevant information as and when it is of most value.

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