‘Being In’: Exploring Augmented Space, the Media Layer and Human Engagement

Authors: Patrick Allen (School of Media, Design and Technology, University of Bradford), Ava Fatah (The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London), David Robison (Capital of Cycling). Partners: Bronte Parsonage Museum, CityConnect, Capital of Cycling.

Presentation for the 3rd International AR and VR Conference in Manchester, 23rd February 2017. 

Abstract and Overview

We describe an approach to augmented space from the point of view of the layering of media technologies onto the physical space of the city and assesses salient aspects of the experience of space in everyday life, the city and urban space more generally. It does this in relation to the deployment of augmenting technologies and modes of display most often associated with new and digital media: visual or otherwise. Preliminary work, in the form of concepts and prototyping, initial development and the scoping of real-world applications and these are described in a way that indicate the potential of some aspects of augmented and mixed reality, into areas of urban design, tourism and heritage, the promotion of cycling for health and the creation of alternative transport infrastructures.

These early attempts at integrating augmented reality into real world applications have centred on both the need to focus on the characteristics of the specific space in question, where, in some circles, this is referred to “site-specificity”. In addition to this, the argument proposed in this research, rests ultimately on the extent to which the spaces under investigation and the technologies that have been superimposed onto them are “embodied”. Theoretical and conceptual work in relation to augmented space tend to be from the point of view of the generalised application of a wide range of ubiquitous and mobile technologies applied to the experience of the city, as in Manovich’s Poetics [2]. As a consequence, many urban spaces are already augmented and, as such, they are augmented spaces in the more generalised sense developed in this chapter. Thus giving priority to the spatial aspects of design and how any intervention is integrated into the environment in which it is situated [3]. The argument is that the experience of urban and public space is either being disrupted or transformed by the creation of augmented space and that this is a global phenomenon. The purpose of developing both a theoretical understanding of augmented space alongside the practical development of the use of ubiquitous and mobile technologies is to beyond the analysis of interaction and to examine strategies for both participation and engagement, whereby users are much more embedded or immersed with the technology. This is done in the knowledge that existing strategies for empirical work in this area may not be enough to cope with the complexity and global nature of this medium. The design, development and deployment of augmented and mixed reality systems and their novel forms of display are evaluated from the perspective of their facility to create, develop and promote audience development and strategies for engagement directly into the design novel forms of display. That is, new research methods are being devised that will shed light on participation and engagement in the following areas: audience development for museums and galleries and other cultural spaces, the promotion of cycling, sustainable transport and healthy living. And, to further develop existing research into the experience of the city as it is impacted by new and emerging technologies.

Keywords: augmented space, augmented reality, ubiquitous and mobile technologies, human engagement, media layer, site-specific, embodiment



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