Imagine wandering through a southern Victorian-era cemetery shaded by ancient oaks dripping with Spanish moss, seeing images of the people who are buried under the crumbling stones appear and listening as they tell you their stories.

Georgia Institute of Technology’s Augmented Environments Lab has developed an “Augmented Reality” tour that allows visitors to do just that at Atlanta’s Oakland cemetery.



During a recent trial run, users carried small laptops in backpacks and used game console controllers to navigate through the cemetery. As they approached specific graves they listened to the “voices” of the first person buried in Oakland, a child who lived through the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War, and a local historian who died in 2000. The audio, with information culled from personal documents, was piped in via a wireless network.



The Georgia Institute of Technology team is working on adding the appropriate ghostly images to the tour, which users will view through a head-mounted display unit. The ghosts’ appearances will probably be activated by RFID tags on the graves.



Unlike Virtual Reality, which immerses users in a new digital environment, Augmented Reality (AR) — a broad class of user interface techniques intended to enhance a person’s perception of the world around them with computer generated information — aims to enhance the analog world.



Users, via wearable display screens, see the non-virtual world around them with digital information superimposed into their surroundings. But since each person experiences the world differently, AR developers face some tricky programming and design problems.



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