Augmented/Hybrid Reality Systems

QR Codes and Augmented Reality:

I discussed the subject of QR codes and other hybrid reality systems briefly in a Kenan Institute Ethics “Good Question” brochure that was distributed on campus and online in Spring 2011.  (Related story here.) I attempted to push these questions a bit at the ACM SIGGRAPH 2011 conference in Vancouver, BC, where I created an augmented reality “tour” of the SIGGRAPH Art Gallery that paired art gallery installation pieces with local sites around the Vancouver Convention Center. This early experiment was a first step towards creating dialogic connections between related work an the local community. At the CHAT Festival in 2012, which I directed, I introduced an AR supplement to the physical gallery experiences, which was profiled by Duke News and featured in a video segment. Since then I have guided students in created augmented reality projects in Durham, NC and Venice, Italy as a way to explore their creative and public history potential.

Panoramas, Tours, and Google Glass): 

We have also been exploring the use of Panorama and Tour software to profile the Duke Hyperbaric Medicine Center as an experimental project focused in this case on recruitment of potential residents to Duke Medicine. Our goal is to use this project as a case study to develop techniques to create a different kind of interlinked, annotated hybrid reality experience. In Spring 2014 I hope to continue this work in the historical Durham context as well, in part through workshops connected to Wired! and the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge and Networks, where I’ll be hosting a Spatial Media working group in Spring 2014.

I will also be experimenting with Google Glass for AR purposes. I became a Glass Explorer and received my headset in July 2013. I am documenting my early experiences with the tool at

Related Teaching/Research Activities:

The theoretical/critical/historical and social questions of digital places and spaces were the topic of a graduate seminar I taught in Fall 2011 – ISIS 260S/VMS 262S: Digital Places and Spaces. In 2011 the course was organized around the topic of “Digital Cities.”  In Spring 2012 the ISIS 495S: Information Science + Information Studies Research Capstone for undergraduate ISIS Certificate students also had a strong AR dimension. My students created AR walks around the city of Durham in partnership with Preservation Durham, a local historic preservation group. The students adapted two walking tours, one on Civil Rights and one on Tobacco Heritage, using various augmented reality toolkits to explore the form’s potential. In Spring 2012 I also beamed in to help students in Florian Wiencek and Tim Senior’s simultaneously-taught versions of a Digital Cities courses, which took place simultaneously in Durham and at Jacobs University in Germany, and taught students in MFAEDA 717: Computational Media, a core course in our new MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts, how to work with AR as well.

In Summer 2013 I co-taught workshops on Historical and Cultural Visualization at Venice International University, in collaboration with colleagues from IUAV: Università Iuav di Venezia and the University of Padua Engineering. We are all partners in the Visualizing Venice project, which promotes the exploration of digital technologies for heritage applications in various disciplines. The summer workshops were geared at an international set of graduate students, primary in art and architectural history. Their final project videos, all about the history of the Venetian Ghetto, represent some of the work done during their 2-week stint in Venice, including AR-based projects. I plan to take some of the best material generated here, and in the prior year’s workshop, and refashion it into more polished AR, web, and mobile applications during my semester in Venice in Fall 2013. What I learn through this process will inform future uses of AR in Wired! projects and as I mentor graduate students in the MA in Historical and Cultural Visualization we plan to offer in my home department beginning Fall 2014, pending final administrative approvals.

I am also reprising my own “Digital Cities” course at  the undergraduate level at Venice International University in Fall 2013, as “Digital Cities and the Cartographic Imagination.” This version of the course places an emphasis on critical cartography and digital map authorship as a form of academic communication – and their implications specifically for cultural heritage. We will continue to explore the rich context of Venice, Italy as a site for considering questions of digital mapping and historical and cultural representation, as well as hybrid media systems. Since we are in a very international setting, with students from all over the world, I am also asking students to do final projects that put a city of their choice in dialog with Venice through the use of digital tools of representation. Some of these will likely take the form of AR as well.