• John-Michael Scurio

Bringing AR to AR!

. . . this is beyond cool!

The future is now.


Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience.


Enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, AR augments a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory.


AR incorporates three basic features:

(1) a combination of real and virtual worlds

(2) real-time interaction

(3) accurate 3-D registration of virtual and real objects


With that explanation out of the way . . . please allow me to introduce Eureka Springs' new and exciting augmented reality tour.


This new Augmented Reality tour (ESART) provides an interactive way to discover and learn about Eureka Springs' public art and natural springs. The Tour brings tourism and technology together to create an engaging way to experience the city.

A Rock Cairn Marker On The Tour

This month, May 2022, the tour launched, in conjunction with the Annual May Festival Of The Arts Event.


All over Eureka Springs, Arkansas, at specific points of interest marked with a rock cairn marker (as shown above), those taking the tour will use their mobile device to scan a code, open a web based Augmented Reality (AR) camera on their smartphones or tablet, and see the art come to life, or see a ghostly figure from Eureka Springs’ past tell about the history of a unique location.


An interactive web-based map also shows locations of springs and public art.

This installation is unique, cutting-edge, forward-thinking, and well . . . just plain cool. Sponsored by the Eureka Springs Arts Council and the City Advertising & Promotion Commission (CAPC), the Eureka Springs Augmented Reality Tour has been created and produced by Edward Robison for the Arts Council.

Here's the deal .. .. ..


Once a visitor arrives at a public art or natural spring location, a rock cairn marker will direct them to use either an NFC (near field communications chip) or a QR code to open the web-based AR camera on their smartphone or tablet. Depending upon the point of interest (POI), the visitor will then either point their camera at the artwork and watch it come to life, or point it at the ground near a spring to watch a “ghostly” virtual tour guide appear and tell them about the POI’s history, interesting facts, or little-known secrets.


Dr. Alvah Jackson never saw this coming when he was alive and well and living here in Eureka back in 1880. That was the time when he was taking the waters from Basin Spring to heal and cure ailments. His reality was very different than the reality of today.


With AR, all these years later, here in AR, we now welcome the chance to experience his reality for a brief moment in time. In 2022, we are now able to experience his 1880.


AR allows this to be possible. It's remarkable.


What happened in this city then and what is happening now still makes many people flock here to visit and to reside. There is just so much here, even today, that make a tour like this cooler than cool. What can we say? Life enrichment is alive and well here in little'ol Eureka Springs, AR.

Downtown Eureka Springs, AR

The forethought behind this installation is truly impressive. The team, instrumental in making this happen, specifically pushed this forward because the Eureka Springs Augmented Reality Tour is also a very covid-era friendly way to explore the city.


Hmm, no better time to go back in time.


The tour is intended to self-guide and inspire tour-goers to explore the city’s many natural springs and public art features including murals and sculptures. Viewers will even meet the artists as they tell the stories of their very own creations.

So . . . WHY?

Well, the primary value of augmented reality is the manner in which components of the digital world blend into a person's perception of the real world happening right now. Perfect for our unique perch, nestled in the Ozarks, (in The Natural State) augmented reality is used to enhance natural environments or situations and offer perceptually enriched experiences.

What's to like about this?

Augmented Reality adds to our already existing reality in Eureka Springs!


(Let's just say, it's like layering one period in time over another period in time for the exact same location on earth and experiencing that former period of reality with our senses in this day and age.) Aaaahhh, so cool!


Here's something to think about with this technology, if the Colosseum in Rome were to create an AR Gladiator Fight tour experience that augmented the Colosseum today back to experiences in 80 A.D. -- I'm totally there!!!


The future is now! Get out there and experience our augmented Eureka Springs!

 

Rock Cairn Markers: These informational 3-D printed rock cairn markers are approx. 12-inches tall and they direct tour-goers to Augmented Reality Points of Interest on the Tour.


These are placed at multiple springs around the city, as well as signs or markers at various other locations. Each marker is embedded with an NFC (near field communications) chip and a QR code to direct visitors to a web link with the AR content.

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