The free Augmented Reality mobile tool BuildAR reveals a historical image of the street or landmark as a user is viewing it through their camera phone, which is sourced from the Powerhouse Museum’s geo-coded photographs in the Commons on Flickr (flickr.com/commons).
“Mobile users are now able to ‘see’ historic images of the local area they are physically in sourced from over 400 images from the Powerhouse’s photography collection on Flickr,” said Dr Dawn Casey, Director of the Powerhouse Museum.
Users can view the images overlaid on ‘reality’, which adjust as the camera is moved and pointed in another direction, or see them in a map or list view.
Each image displayed gives users the option to then visit the image in Flickr, find related historical information on the Powerhouse’s website or get closer to the point at which the photo has been geo-coded with map directions.
The web-based BuildAR is the first version of this Augmented Reality mobile toolkit by Rob Manson and Alex Young of MOB, an innovation lab which builds interactive experiences for mobiles and PCs. BuildAR is built upon the Mobile Reality Browser called Layar, which uses a mobile’s GPS to work out its location. Using the phone’s digital compass to determine the direction the user is pointing the camera, it then builds a model of the objects and surrounding places.
"After hearing about the Powerhouse's contribution to the Flickr Commons we approached them about integrating their geo-coded images into a Mobile Augmented Reality experience. They then provided us links to these images in a really usable format that made this integration a piece of cake!"" said Rob Manson, Managing Director of MOB.
“Enabling the images in the Commons on Flickr to be utilised in programs such as BuildAR is part of our commitment to enhancing access to the Powerhouse Museum’s collection through new mediums. This exciting development is one example of how the Powerhouse Museum is working within the technology sector to support Australian innovation in digital interactivity,” said Dr Casey.
The program currently runs on Android-based devices and has now been released on the iPhone 3GS platform.
The Powerhouse Museum has also recently launched an iPhone version of its website, after launching its first mobile version in February this year. The Museum’s website also now features the Google Translate widget, allowing the site to be translated across 39 languages.