We are excited to announce the launch of an augmented reality (AR) app for the Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama exhibit at the Atlanta History Center (AHC). In 2017 the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) and AHC collaborated to develop an educational application that would accompany the 2019 opening of Cyclorama: The Big Picture, an exhibit featuring the fully restored painting, The Battle of Atlanta. The Cyclorama Augmented Reality (AR) Experience app identifies and illustrates significant points-of-interests (POIs) embedded in the painting and is available in app stores for iOS (Apple) and Android (Google Play).
As ECDS Visual Information Specialist Arya Basu explains, “Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image and or 3D model on the user’s view of the world, providing a composite picture. Chosen as a tool to enhance the scholarship of the Cyclorama painting, AR enables a smart device, such as a smartphone or tablet, to scan for an image target in the painting. Once the device locates an image target, it calls on the application to provide more information about a particular POI [point of interest].” These various POIs include (but are not limited to) landmarks, people of interest, and alterations to the painting. The accompanying information introduces and educates the public about the Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama exhibit and its related history. ECDS has worked previously with the AHC on an OpenTour Builder app that guided users to five tour stops in present-day Atlanta, corresponding with major battlefield sites shown in the Cyclorama painting. A companion essay about the Battle of Atlanta, published by Southern Spaces, includes more detailed information about battlefield events and landmarks, lengthier profiles of opposing army commanders, an account of the battle’s aftermath and legacy, and recommendations for additional reading.
The app store preview also includes technical details about how the app works: “The mobile application accesses the handheld device’s camera feed and uses Vuforia SDK to engage in active detection and triggering of the pre-defined target POIs. The mobile application is developed and maintained using the Unity game engine interface. The POIs could range from simple images to animated entities that help us in engaging with the Cyclorama painting meaningfully.” The design process spanned a two-year period, with several rounds of on-site testing to ensure a seamless user experience. In the process of research, aspects of the painting newly came to light, such as the fact that painters used a composition rule to distribute the activity of the battlefield from highest to lowest in a clockwise direction.
The Emory Center for Digital Scholarship and Digital Visualization Laboratory team members include: ECDS co-directors Wayne Morse Jr. and Dr. Allen Tullos, senior video producer Dr. Steve Bransford, visual information specialist Dr. Arya Basu, geographer Michael Page, visual design specialist Ian Burr, and digital scholarship specialist Kayla Shipp.
A video about the Cyclorama AR Experience app is forthcoming on the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship website. If you would like to view the painting and AR app, the Atlanta History Center recommends reserving advanced tickets for the Cyclorama exhibit, due to capacity and the timed audio-visual presentation on the viewing platform.
App store links: