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Augmented reality in Christchurch - the way things used to be

This post has been cross-posted from:

Since September 2010 Christchuch has been hit by a number of large earthquakes and a lot of the inner city has been demolished to make way for reconstruction. Even for people who have lived in Christchurch all their lives it is difficult to walk through the earthquake damaged city and remember what buildings used to be there.

CityViewAR is a mobile Augmented Reality application that allows people to see how the city was before the earthquakes and building demolitions. Using an Android mobile phone people can walk around the city and see life-sized virtual models of what the buildings looked like on site before they were demolished, and see pictures and written information. Hundreds of 3D models of key city buildings have been made available from architect Jason Mill of ZNO, while the Christchurch City Council and Historic Places Trust have provided photographs and building histories.



CityViewAR is based on the HIT Lab NZ Android AR platform which uses the GPS and compass sensors of mobile phones to enable virtual information to be overlaid on live video of the real world. Android AR makes it easy for Android developers to build their own outdoor AR applications. The software was previously used for showing individual buildings, but this is the first time that it has been used to show dozens of buildings at once, and the first time in world that mobile phone AR has been used for earthquake reconstruction.


Future work on the app will allow users to add their own feedback on the buildings shown, so architects and urban planners can use the tool to get input from people about their proposed designs. Additional histroical data could be included to allow people to go back in time and see what used to be at locations 50 or 100 years ago. It is also anticipated that the system could be connected to more traditional GIS viewing software, to enable other data sets to be shown, such as utility information. Ongoing research could lead to a mobile AR platform that could be quickly deployed in response to a natural disaster and provide invaluable on-site information.



The application can be downloaded from the Android Market by searching for ‘CityViewAR’ or through the following link: You can download directly to your Android Mobile using the QR Code.

People who are not in Christchuch can still see the content as if they were there but using the application to send fake GPS data.

While the app itself is intuitive and self-explaining, for more details and tips on how to use the app, please have a look at the 

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