Project uses augmented reality to showcase Schoharie

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Project uses augmented reality to showcase Schoharie

On August 17, 2016, Posted by , In Blog,News, With No Comments

[This article was written by the Times Union and was originally posted on the Times Union site. It’s in reference to Trails and Tales of Schoharie County, our project formerly known as Geo to Go.]

By J.p. Lawrence

Updated 10:18 pm, Sunday, August 14, 2016



Five years after the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene, a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor is using technology, seemingly from the future, to showcase Schoharie’s past.

Lillian Spina-Caza, a Schoharie resident affected by the 2011 storm, is working to develop a location-based augmented reality project to showcase the region’s heritage.

“We’re bringing something from the virtual into the real,” Spina-Caza said.

 The interactive app and website would use GPS coordinates to present users with video or audio commentary that matches their current location, like a museum audio tour but for an entire county.

For example, when someone walking along the Schoharie County Quilt Barn Trail comes across a large green turtle quilt, a pop-up on the person’s phone would give more info on what the quilt is about. In this case, it would be a short video of the quilt’s designer, Carla Hemlock, who is from the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation Territory near Montreal, explaining that “the turtle signifies two things: the Turtle Clan family … and it also signifies the land, we call this place Turtle Island.”

“You’re at the quilt, you’re looking at it, you can listen as long as you want as you go to each location,” Spina-Caza said. “It will be mobile responsive.”

The wildly popular augmented reality game Pokemon Go also uses GPS coordinates to match in an app events to a person’s physical location, but Spina-Caza said the project was born before she knew about the Pokemon app that became the most popular mobile game in the U.S. ever.

Since 2013, Spina-Caza and a dozen other interviewers gathered more than 50 hours of oral histories about residents and their experiences during the flood. “From there, the idea was, ‘What to do with the interviews?'” Spina-Caza said. “How do we get them into the world?”

These videos and audio narratives are being edited into 30- to 90-second clips that match locations on the Schoharie County Quilt Barn Trail, the Schoharie County Beverage Trail and the Schoharie County Farm Trail.

The project has been in development in collaboration with Schoharie Area Long Term Inc., and received a $90,000 grant from the New York State Council of the Arts.

Sarah Goodrich, executive director of SALT, said the project is as much for local residents as it is for visitors to Schoharie.

“Following any major event it’s necessary for people to relearn and restore that sense of pride in their area,” Goodrich said.

The project is scheduled for completion by December, said Spina-Caza, who has been speaking with RPI faculty and a national gaming company for assistance with the project.

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