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App to bring region’s history to life wins funding

7 November 2013

App to bring region’s history to life wins funding

A project led by a Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) student to develop an augmented reality history-sharing application (app) has received $45,000 in funding from New Zealand On Air’s Digital Media Fund.

The app – dubbed ‘heARt’ - Heritage Education Augmented Reality Tours will use technology to share the Nelson-Tasman region’s history and stories in an information-rich and dynamic medium designed to appeal to young people aged 5 to 18. Using 3-dimensional scene recognition technology, the app will post images and content on top of the real world when viewed on a smartphone or tablet device to educate users about the past. While similar augmented reality applications have been used in Christchurch and the USA, the Kiwi AR product uses a different type of technology, which should result in a smoother viewing experience for the user.

heARt Project Leader David Brydon, 29, is a full-time, second year student in NMIT’s Bachelor of Information Technology degree programme. He is also the founder of Kiwi AR, a social enterprise with a mission to advance augmented reality products and services which benefit the people of New Zealand. His most recent project was the creation of a private augmented reality app using exhibits from the Nelson Provincial Museum and the Suter Gallery and the museum is a partner in this project.

“I see augmented reality as a tool which can connect each of us with the world around us like no other digital medium has been able to do before. Taking content and placing it into the real world satisfies us on a much deeper level than having it displayed on a traditional 2D screen.

“As this technology grows we will be able to continue to connect to the real world and each other by getting out of our seats and into the real world - rather than being distracted from it like we are with today’s technology,” he says.

David Brydon and his team will spend ten weeks developing the app over summer, with the launch planned for February 2014. The app will be freely available for download from the Apple App and Google Play App Stores to any GPS-enabled smart phone or tablet device.

Peter Millward, Chief Executive of the Nelson Provincial Museum said the app would enable the museum to share its pictures and information in a way that hadn’t been done before.

“We’re very excited to be working with David and his team on this project which will enable us to engage new, younger audiences and bring history into the present.

“We hope the app will provide a template for other regions, schools, community groups and organisations to tell their stories, educate and entertain people both in New Zealand and around the world,” he said.

NMIT IT Lecturer Clare Atkins said she had encouraged David Brydon to apply for the funding after seeing his work in a course assignment. “I was so impressed with the augmented reality app that David had produced as well as his ability to work with diverse stakeholders. When I saw the NZ On Air call for proposals for digital media applications I just knew that even up against professional developers, David would be able to provide an innovative and high quality product.”

The Nelson Provincial Museum, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Nelson Public Library, Nelson City Council, The Prow, Nelson Tasman Tourism and the Historic Places Trust are all supporters of the project.


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