Visualizing In-Situ Historic Geographies with Mobile Augmented Reality

Authors: Robert Williams*, Pennsylvania State University
Topics: Historical Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Temporal GIS
Keywords: augmented reality, place, immersive, cultural heritage, historic preservation, history, structures, archaeology, mobile device, digital humanities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Century, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Majestic Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The concept of “place” embodies temporal dimensions spanning infinite time. The past we view using prints, photographs, historic maps, and video. The present we see with our eyes. Imagined futures are seen using modeling and simulations. By applying cloud and mobile computing power and faster global network connectivity, we will next view places through breakthroughs in augmented reality (AR) technologies.

For historical geographers and cultural heritage practitioners the toolkit of the future will include in-situ visualization. Mobile AR for historic preservation and archaeology allows visualization of historic structures at the actual field site with high geo-location accuracy and the proper human perception of size and scale.

In this presentation, a geospatial processing workflow will be presented to create virtual historic structures at their exact historic locations. Historic maps, drawings and texts are used to identify the location and plan views of demolished structures. Historic maps are merged with digital terrain and elevation maps (DTM/DEM) to generate accurate location data. Renderings are created with computer aided drawing (CAD) software and overlaid onto terrain exactly or approximately at the historic location. The virtual historic buildings are viewed using AR software on mobile devices.

A set of virtual 18th and 19th century Philadelphia PA area inns, now demolished, will demonstrate the AR application for historical geography. Mobile device screen shots and walk-around video will showcase functionality. Finally, survey responses of local historical preservationists will reveal the viewers’ experience and suggestions for future research, historical narrative and interpretation development, and story building.

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