Touring Mount Vernon or James Monroe’s Highland estate will never be the same. Augmented reality firm ARtGlass has teamed up with Epson to provide a tour experience that is as futuristic as it is historical.
Utilizing Epson’s line of Moverio smart eyewear, sight-seers will now be able to engage in a more immersive experience than ever before. More than the traditional over-ear audio tour, those who choose the AR experience will be privy to holograms, visual text, pictures, and videos that can only be seen with the use of the Epson eyewear. And, users won’t have to settle for constantly meddling with an ill-fitting earphone or crowding around a tour guide who they can barely hear. The AR experience is hands-free and allows users to take in the sights at their own pace.
The system was first tested in Italy, and ARtGlass, which specializes in applying AR experiences to historical sites, has begun its expedition to America’s many historical sites, beginning with Monroe’s Highland home in Virginia.
When we first launched ARtGlass in Italy, we knew that if we could overcome the challenges of bringing wearable AR tours to the Old World, we’d be ready for the New World,” said Greg Werkheiser, ARtGlass co-founder, and CEO, in Washington, D.C. “We are thrilled now to help revolutionize cultural tours at U.S. sites.
From Italy’s Royal Villa of Monza to Mt. Vernon, the AR experience is befitting of a younger generation that demands more value from any experience, and may not be as likely to engage with historical sites, as their options for distraction and activity are greater than ever. Still, the popularity of such sites remains high, and ARtGlass, along with Epson, are wise to incorporate such a disruptive technology into the unchanging annals of history.
Because the first mainstream exposure to AR was Pokémon GO, we’re frequently asked, ‘Are you just going to create cartoon characters? And will that interfere with academic storytelling or reverence for a site?’” Werkheiser said. “We believe — and have found through experience — that appreciation for the history and respect for a site can be enhanced through better storytelling. To us, it’s not a threat but an opportunity.
AR tours typically last about 50 minutes and encompass 13 total stops. It’s a reasonable length of time for virtually any demographic, and provides a tour experience that few have experienced before. You can even see a 3D hologram of George Washington himself, which has to be a trip to witness firsthand.