In the era of smartphones and rapid technological advancements, the ways we explore and understand our rich historical sites are transforming. The Chester House Estate is a brilliant example of this transformation. With a history spanning a whopping 10,000 years, it has embraced the age of augmented reality (AR) to make its treasures accessible and engaging for today’s visitors.
Digital Reimagining of a Historic Legacy
Chester House Estate, nestled in Irchester, Wellingborough, boasts a remarkable legacy as one of the UK’s rare sites showing 10,000 years of human activity. But how do you ensure that such an extensive timeline, brimming with stories and artefacts, isn’t just presented as a dull history lesson? The University of Northampton (UON) found the answer by creating an AR-driven app that weaves the rich tapestry of the estate’s past in a format appealing to the 21st-century audience.
Diving Deeper: The AR Trails
The heart of this digital experience lies in its two AR trails. One offers insights into the estate’s long-standing history, while the other immerses visitors in the Roman excavations. As visitors meander through these trails, they’re rewarded with AR unlocks, giving them access to interactive 3D models, be it Roman buildings or ancient artefacts like coins and pottery.
A Collaborative Endeavour
Siobhan Read, a UON Games Art graduate, shared her experience working on the project, describing it as both challenging and rewarding. She and her team used photogrammetry techniques to recreate 3D models of artefacts, a new feat for many on the team. While the journey had its hurdles, the outcome, as Siobhan aptly puts it, is something they can be truly ‘appy’ with.
Multiple UON teams collaborated to bring this app to life, from Digital Education and Games Design to Special Educational Needs and Inclusion. This collective effort truly encapsulates the community spirit, where diverse expertise came together for a common passion – preserving and presenting history in its most engaging form.
Getting Your Hands on History
For site managers and history enthusiasts keen on experiencing this blend of past and future, the Chester House Estate app is available for download on both Android and Apple platforms. This venture not only showcases the technological prowess of UON but also underlines the growing potential of AR in enhancing the visitor experience at heritage sites.
The Chester House Estate AR app is a testament to how digital innovation can breathe new life into historical narratives. For site managers, it underscores the vast possibilities that await when tradition meets technology. As we move further into the digital age, projects like these hint at a future where our rich past can be experienced in increasingly immersive and interactive ways.