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Viewing the Past: Virtual Time Binoculars and the Edinburgh 1544 Reconstruction

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This paper discusses how a digital reconstruction of the Scottish capital of Edinburgh around the year 1544 was created and communicated to the public. It explores the development and reception of the Virtual Time Binoculars platform – a system for delivering virtual reality heritage apps suitable for use on most smartphones. The Virtual Time Binoculars system is placed in the context of earlier research into mobile heritage experiences, including Situated Simulations (Liestøl [3]) and the Mirrorshades Project (Davies et al. [4]). The eventual virtual reality app is compared with other means of viewing the historic reconstruction, including online videos and an interactive museum and educational exhibit. It outlines the historical and technical challenges of modelling Edinburgh’s sixteenth-century cityscape, and of distributing the eventual reconstruction in an immersive fashion that works safely and effectively on smartphones on the streets of the modern city. Finally, it considers the implications of this project for future developments in mobile exploration of historic scenes.
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Viewing the Past: Virtual Time Binoculars and the
Edinburgh 1544 Reconstruction
Elizabeth Rhodes, Alan Miller, Christopher Davies, Iain Oliver and Sarah Kennedy1
1 University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, United Kingdom.
egsr@st-andrews.ac.uk
Abstract. This paper discusses how a digital reconstruction of the Scottish capital of
Edinburgh around the year 1544 was created and communicated to the public. It explores
the development and reception of the Virtual Time Binoculars platform a system for
delivering virtual reality heritage apps suitable for use on most smartphones. The Virtual
Time Binoculars system is placed in the context of earlier research into mobile heritage
experiences, including Situated Simulations (G. Liestøl. 2009) and the Mirrorshades Pro-
ject (C. Davies et al. 2014). The eventual virtual reality app is compared with other means
of viewing the historic reconstruction, including online videos and an interactive museum
and educational exhibit. It outlines the historical and technical challenges of modelling
Edinburgh’s sixteenth-century cityscape, and of distributing the eventual reconstruction
in an immersive fashion that works safely and effectively on smartphones on the streets
of the modern city. Finally, it considers the implications of this project for future devel-
opments in mobile exploration of historic scenes.
Keywords: Historical Reconstruction, Virtual Reality, Mobile Devices.
1 Introduction
Twenty-first-century cities are shaped by the priorities and planning decisions of pre-
vious generations. Yet many modern urban residents and tourists have only a vague
awareness of the relationship between past and present cityscapes. One way to improve
understanding of the evolution of our urban spaces is via reconstructions of historic
scenes. Traditionally, reconstructions were either still pictures or hand-made models,
typically printed in books or displayed as part of the interpretation at museums and
heritage sites [1]. However, these methods of communicating with the public have ma-
jor limitations. Most history books do not have vast sales, while conventional museum
displays and information panels are inevitably fixed in specific locations (often some
distance from the historic site they are representing).
Over the last twenty years digital technologies have revolutionised how reconstruc-
tions of historic sites are made and (potentially) experienced. Digital representations of
past scenes involving interactivity, movement, and complex sound effects are now pos-
sible. Lately, major developments in virtual reality have improved the immersiveness
of simulated environments. Yet the contexts in which these digital representations are
2
viewed by the public have remained relatively traditional. Digital reconstructions tend
to be shown as part of fixed museum installations, or are brief video clips included in
documentaries or embedded in conventional websites. On occasions digitally created
reconstruction images are even published as illustrations in conventional books [2]. In
short, it is still assumed that people will primarily engage with reconstructions in indoor
settings either in the comfort of their own homes and workplaces, or in museums.
The mass adoption of smart phones has the potential to change this situation. People
have become used to carrying complex digital devices in their handbags and pockets
providing new possibilities for portable digital interpretation of historic cityscapes. It
is now technologically possible for users to view a digital reconstruction of a historic
scene on a mobile device, at the same time as exploring those same spaces in reality
today. The past and present appearance of a street can be experienced in tandem. How-
ever, currently, both heritage experts and digital developers have only begun to respond
to these exciting opportunities.
This paper discusses how a recent reconstruction of the Scottish capital of Edinburgh
in the 1540s was created and communicated to the public, and the efforts which were
made to foster an immersive, yet portable, user experience. It will outline the historical
and technological challenges of modelling a cityscape which can be accessed on mobile
devices out of doors, and the development of the so-called Virtual Time Binoculars a
framework for delivering simple virtual reality apps suitable for most mainstream smart
phones. Additional ways in which the reconstruction could be viewed (including online
videos and an immersive museum exhibit) will also be discussed. Finally, it will con-
sider the overall reception and use of the reconstruction, and possibilities for future
development.
2 Technical Background
The Edinburgh 1544 reconstruction, and the associated Virtual Time Binoculars frame-
work, were deliberately designed to be used out of doors and on the street (as well as
in more controlled indoor settings). Accessing a digital reconstruction in an outside
urban space raises certain challenges. Firstly, it is essential that on-street users can en-
joyably engage with the virtual scene, while remaining safe in the actual twenty-first-
century world which surrounds them. Secondly, there is the question of ensuring the
virtual experience functions efficiently on ordinary smartphones, without asking too
much of a mobile device’s processing power, storage space, and battery consumption.
In order to address these complications, the Virtual Time Binoculars framework drew
on nearly a decade of research into how people interact with augmented reality, virtual
reality, and smartphones.
As far back as 2009, Gunnar Liestøl and his colleagues at the University of Oslo
developed the concept of Situated Simulations (or sitsim), using powerful location and
orientation-aware smartphones and tablets to render a 3D virtual environment, which
was then navigated through the user's position in the real world [3]. Users of sitsim
were intended to view reconstructions via phone and tablet screens (rather than by head-
sets), and to travel around the virtual model by really walking about a heritage site.
3
Liestøl’s pioneering work demonstrated the outstanding possibilities of smartphones
for presentating portable virtual reconstructions. However, the sitsim approach does
have its limitations. There are practical problems associated with using real world
movement to navigate a virtual environment in an uncontrolled space such as a city
street. It frequently is not safe for a user to stand in the middle of a busy road holding
up a smartphone in order to experience the perfect view of a historic scene. Addition-
ally, the small screen of a mobile phone does not provide users with a particularly im-
mersive experience, and can have significant problems with reflection when used out
of doors in fine weather.
Between 2013 and 2015 researchers at the University of St Andrews worked on
the Mirrorshades project [4]. This further examined the concept of seeing a real envi-
ronment in tandem with a virtual representation of the same location. Yet, rather than
showing reconstructions on a tablet or smartphone screen, the Mirrorshades project
used a virtual reality (VR) headset equipped with stereo passthrough video cameras,
and a magnetic indoor positioning system, providing a more immersive exploration of
the reconstruction [5]. By using a VR headset that completely encompassed the user's
view, the experience of the Mirrorshades parallel reality system was of shifting between
two distinct and fully immersive environments, rather than only having a small 'win-
dow' onto the virtual environment as provided by a smartphone screen in the sitsim
scenario.
Fig. 1. The Mirrorshades parallel reality platform in use at the fifteenth-century St Salvator’s
Chapel. Still from youtube video [6].
Critically the Mirrorshades project logged experimental participants’ walking behav-
iour, head movements, and viewing modes which provided valuable information for
the development of the Virtual Time Binoculars framework. Analysis of user studies
within the Mirrorshades platform revealed that engagement with the virtual
4
environment was predominantly performed while people were stationary. Users typi-
cally looked at their real world view while walking between perceived locations of in-
terest, at which point they would stand still and look fully at the virtual environment.
The users’ behaviour can probably be explained by the fact that successful ambulation
around a space is dependent on avoiding actual obstacles in the real world, causing
viewers to focus on reality rather than any equivalent virtual environment. This acquires
a particular importance when real and virtual environments do not share precisely the
same layout, if the registration and position tracking between the two environments is
imperfect, or if the real world situation is potentially hazardous (as is the case with a
city street).
Fig. 2. Mirrorshades participants’ walking behaviour and head movements contrasted
against real and virtual visuals.
The Mirrorshades behavioural observation raises questions about whether systems
which allow users to explore real and virtual environments always need to provide a
full 3D reconstruction. This is a important consideration as hosting a full 3D recon-
struction places considerable demands on a smartphone in terms of processing power,
download size, storage space, and battery life. The Mirrorshades project suggested that
an experientially similar virtual reality platform might be achieved by using a combi-
nation of still 360 degree images, and videos captured from a 3D reconstruction. Rather
than the user having to move to a new location to obtain a new view, movement be-
comes an intrinsic part of the media loaded into the virtual reality experience. Such a
change promises significant benefits in outdoor virtual reality experiences. The smaller
5
footprint of an app which uses a combination of still videos and short looping videos
(instead of a full interactive 3D reconstruction) is a substantial boon for users, given
the patchy nature of 3G/4G data services in the United Kingdom, and the fact that many
international visitors have prohibitively expensive or non-existent mobile data plans.
Meanwhile, the fact that walking around the virtual reconstruction is no longer depend-
ent on actual physical movement has substantial health and safety benefits in the con-
text of a busy urban space.
This thinking heavily influenced decisions regarding the functionality of the Virtual
Time Binoculars system. As a result of the Mirrorshades research it was determined
that the Virtual Time Binoculars:
1. Did not need to provide users with a completely free-roaming exploration of a 3D
reconstruction. Instead a more focused ‘guided tour’ approach would fit with most
users’ tendency to concentrate on locations of perceived interest.
2. Movement between locations in the reconstruction should not be dictated by the
users’ actual movements in the real world (a feature that raises considerable safety
issues in a busy urban space).
3. Users should be able to switch easily between a screen view and a headset view,
allowing them to combine a highly immersive virtual reality experience, with a more
‘window-like’ screen based experience (which might be preferable in some urban
spaces).
3 Identifying 1540s Edinburgh as a Place to Reconstruct
The Virtual Time Binoculars framework was initially launched for use with a 3D model
of Edinburgh in the 1540s. Sixteenth-century Edinburgh was selected as a suitable site
to reconstruct for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, as the capital of Scotland and
a world heritage site, Edinburgh is a site of international importance [7]. Yet heritage
interpretation for its sixteenth-century history is patchy at best. Indeed, before the Ed-
inburgh 1544 project, there were no publicly available digital reconstructions of the
sixteenth-century cityscape. This gap is surprising as before 1603 Edinburgh was the
capital of an independent kingdom, and dominated Scottish trade and politics.
The year 1544 was specifically focused on, as both a tumultuous time in the city’s
history, and because of the existence of an early bird’s-eye view plan from this time. In
May 1544 the Scottish capital was attacked by an English army with instructions to
‘burn Edinburgh town’ leaving it ‘so razed and defaced...that there may remain forever
a perpetual memory of the vengeance of God’ [8]. In fact, the eventual outcome was
slightly less cataclysmic. The English failed to take Edinburgh Castle, and departed
after burning sections of the capital, and sacking the Abbey and Palace of Holyrood [9].
Among the English forces in May 1544 there was a military engineer named Richard
Lee, who created a remarkable aerial view of how Edinburgh appeared during the Eng-
lish attack. The bird’s-eye plan was probably intended to inform Henry VIII and his
advisors about how the English operations unfolded [10]. Lee’s drawing is now in the
British Library, and is the oldest (relatively) realistic representation of the Scottish cap-
ital [11]. The Lee plan formed the inspiration for the Edinburgh 1544 reconstruction.
6
Evidence from Lee’s drawing was supplemented with information from archaeological
reports, sixteenth-century written descriptions of Edinburgh, and other early visual de-
pictions notably James Gordon of Rothiemay’s seventeenth-century engravings of the
capital and William Edgar’s mid-eighteenth-century maps [12].
4 Creating the Reconstruction
Like most cities, Edinburgh was smaller in the sixteenth century than today, being fo-
cused on the quarter now known as the Old Town. In 1544 the built-up area spanned
about 2 km from east to west, and about 0.5 km from north to south at its widest points.
Although diminutive in terms of twenty-first-century cities, this is a relatively large
area to reconstruct digitally. Creating a reconstruction of the whole of sixteenth-century
Edinburgh (including the associated suburb of the Canongate) was an ambitious under-
taking, which posed challenges regarding historical research, modelling time, and en-
suring that the eventual digital output was not unduly large for use on mobile devices.
The underlying terrain for the reconstruction was created with World Machine and
was informed by modern OS map data [13]. Some adjustments were made to take into
account changes in Edinburgh’s geography notably the disappearance of the large
stretch of water known as the Nor Loch (formerly located where Waverley Station now
stands). The landscape was then imported into the gaming engine Unreal Engine 4, and
modern and historic maps were overlaid on the 3D terrain, providing a guide for the
layout of the historic street plan [14].
Unfortunately none of the sixteenth or seventeenth images of Edinburgh were suffi-
ciently geographically accurate to be used as the base for the reconstruction’s street
plan without major distortion. The oldest plan which successfully layered onto the 3D
terrain was William Edgar’s map from about 1765 [15]. The Edgar plan pre-dates the
main eighteenth-century redevelopment of Edinburgh. However, some boundaries did
shift between the sixteenth and mid-eighteenth centuries. In particular the frontages of
buildings had a tendency to encroach onto the streets. Using the eighteenth-century
street plan as a base layer therefore almost certainly introduced elements of inaccuracy
into the reconstruction.
The sixteenth-century buildings were initially modelled in SketchUp and then im-
ported into Unreal [16]. Major sites (such as Holyrood Palace, St Giles’ Kirk, the Neth-
erbow, and Trinity College) were based on detailed historical research. However, a
combination of time constraints and gaps in the historical sources meant that many of
the ordinary urban residences were generic buildings, located approximately according
to historic property boundaries [17]. The reconstruction process highlighted the numer-
ous lacunae in our understanding of Edinburgh’s early sixteenth century domestic ar-
chitecture (in particular the design of vernacular timber structures) and it is to be
hoped that the Edinburgh 1544 project will trigger further discussion and research on
this topic.
7
Fig. 3. Reconstruction of the Netherbow from the Edinburgh 1544 project. This was
one of the most important gateways to Edinburgh in the sixteenth century (and the focus
of significant fighting in 1544). However, the structure was completely demolished in
the eighteenth century as it was obstructing traffic.
5 Communicating the Reconstruction
A major advantage of digital reconstructions (as against traditional drawings or physi-
cal models) is the variety of media that can be generated from one model. A range of
digital outputs were created from the Edinburgh 1544 model in Unreal Engine 4. The
core output was of course the content included in the Edinburgh 1544 Virtual Time
Binoculars app. However, additional videos and spherical media were generated for
embedding in web-resources and sharing on social media. A full 3D reconstruction
which allows users to roam freely about the virtual historic city was also developed for
use in museum exhibits and educational contexts.
5.1 The Virtual Time Binoculars
The Edinburgh 1544 Virtual Time Binoculars app provides a tour through the 3D re-
construction of Scotland’s early sixteenth-century capital [18]. Following a brief intro-
ductory video there is an interactive historic map, with a marker indicating the user’s
current location, and buttons to select a range of key sites. Some of these historic sites
exist today in a modified form (like St Giles’ Kirk), while others have been completely
8
demolished (such as the Netherbow). Selecting a site starts a video of a relevant section
of the 3D reconstruction (for instance the journey along a particular street), providing
users with a sense of movement and discovery in their experience of the model. Upon
the completion of the video users reach a 360 degree virtual historic scene, which can
be explored either via a mobile device’s touch-screen, or through a simple virtual reality
headset of the Google Cardboard or Google Daydream type [19]. Users can switch be-
tween touch-screen and headset mode through an icon in the corner of the screen. In-
teractive information points are located within the 360 view, which can be selected to
access brief factual information about a site’s history and to view early images of the
location (such as paintings or engravings), giving users a hint of the actual historical
sources which informed the reconstruction process. This presentation of the 3D recon-
struction was devised with the intention of creating a package which is not unduly large
for use on standard smartphones, can be used in outdoor and indoor environments, but
which nevertheless provides a degree of immersiveness, and does not significantly re-
strict how a large proportion of people tend to interact with virtual reality experiences.
Virtual Time Binoculars apps are designed for use on Android and Apple devices in
conjunction with Google Cardboard type viewers, or as an extended android app for
use with Google Daydream. The Virtual Time Binoculars platform consists of three
parts: the package creation system, the package management system, and the app
framework. The system is designed to enable the easy creation of virtual reality tour
apps. The tours can contain a variety of types of media files including 360 photospheres,
videospheres, videos, still images, and audio. All the visual media can be displayed
stereoscopically. Tours can be set up to be linear or involve navigation via a map sys-
tem. The packages consist of an XML file describing the tour and the relevant media
files in a zip file.
Currently, package creation is undertaken using an Omeka plug-in. Omeka is a con-
tent management system for online digital collections [20]. It provides Dublin core
metadata and is easily extendable. The plug-in creates a private online exhibit of the
contents of the app. This allows the alignment of the hotspots to be checked. All of the
elements of the tours are items in Omeka and nodes in the exhibit. The package system
creates an XML file with URLs referring to the media files. When the package is ex-
ported to the package management system the XML file is sent to the package manage-
ment system which copies files to a local location, adds them to a zip file, and makes
the media references local to the zip.
The package management system controls the relationship between packages and
their content and apps. It stores the packages and is used to create lists of packages for
apps. These lists contain metadata about the packages including a thumbnail and when
they were last updated.
The app framework is a system which takes a list of packages, downloads them, and
renders the packages. There are three implementations of the app framework, namely
for Android (Google Cardboard), Extended Android (Google Daydream), and Apple
(Google Cardboard). The three frameworks are configured with a number of parameters
including the package list URL, and whether there are to be multiple packages or just
one. Single package apps start by downloading the single package and unpacking it.
9
The package list tells the app whether it is to be downloaded automatically, or it will
require the user to request download.
The apps allow two modes of interaction, virtual reality mode or wide screen mode.
In VR mode any flat media is rendered onto a plane in front of the user, while spherical
media is rendered on the inside of a sphere. In Cardboard VR versions users focus their
gaze on a hotspot in order to select it. The Daydream app uses the hand-held controller
to select points. When the Cardboard app is in wide screen mode the flat media is ren-
dered on an overlay layer, though spherical media is still rendered on the inside of a
sphere. In wide screen mode hotspots are selected by touching them.
The apps use OpenGL to render the media which allows them to also include 3D
artefacts. To use the virtual reality mode a mobile device must have a gyroscope sensor
to track its orientation. This means that on Apple devices the virtual reality mode only
works on iPhone 4 or subsequent models. All Daydream compatible phones have gy-
roscope sensors, but not all older Android phones have this feature.
5.2 Website, Social Media, and Interactive Exhibit
In addition to the Virtual Time Binoculars app, an Edinburgh 1544 website was created.
This serves the dual purpose of publicising the app, and provider greater context on the
reconstruction [21]. Videos from the reconstruction were also posted on the Vimeo
video sharing site, and photospheres were uploaded to Roundme [22]. It was felt that it
was important to provide a range of ways in which people could access the reconstruc-
tion, not of all which should involve having to install an app on a mobile device (a
relevant consideration as 49 percent of people aged over 55 still do not have a
smartphone) [23]. Having video content on Vimeo also facilitated sharing on social
media and via traditional media outlets.
An interactive exhibit, which allows users to explore freely the full 3D reconstruction
of Edinburgh in 1544, was also developed for use in museums and educational contexts.
This was exhibited at public events at the Museum of Edinburgh, and at Riddle’s Court
(where it was one of the attractions for the Edinburgh Doors Open Day). It has also
been used in educational contexts including local schools and the Curiosity Live sci-
ence festival in Glasgow. This exhibit can be used either with a traditional flat screen,
or an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset [24]. It has not, as yet, been generally released
to the public, partly because the current version requires considerable processing power
and a high-quality graphics card in order to function quickly. All of the fully released
content, both the Edinburgh 1544 Virtual Time Binoculars app and the online videos
and photospheres, are available free of charge.
6 Reception and Use of the Reconstruction
The online videos on Vimeo have proved to be by far the most heavily used of the
Edinburgh 1544 project outputs. The most popular of these videos has over 61,000
views, while another has in excess of 33,000 views [25]. To put these figures in context,
10
it has been claimed that an average academic monograph on a historical topic sells in
the region of 200 copies [26]. Clearly, making content freely available online can ena-
ble historical research to reach much wider audiences than traditional academic pub-
lishing.
When compared with the number of video views, the Edinburgh 1544 Virtual Time
Binoculars apps have had significantly fewer downloads. The relative popularity of the
videos is probably attributable to a range of reasons, including the fact the videos were
linked to by major media organisations. It also perhaps reflects people’s familiarity with
watching online video content, the ease with which videos can be shared, and the
slightly lesser time and commitment involved in clicking on an online video as against
downloading and starting to use an app. That being said, the app has fulfilled its aim of
enabling people to take a reconstruction out onto the street. It has been used by tour
guides, and has generally received positive feedback. The app also generated consider-
able media interest around the time of its launch, leading to reporting in print editions
of The Times, the Daily Express, the i, The Scotsman, and The Herald [27]. The BBC
also subsequently approached the app creation team to discuss Edinburgh’s experiences
in 1544 for a Newsnight report arguably indicating that the app succeeded in its over-
all aim of raising the profile of an under-appreciated moment in Edinburgh’s history
[28].
7 Considerations for Future Development
At the heart of the Edinburgh 1544 project lay the creation of a full 3D digital recon-
struction of a sixteenth-century cityscape. The project clearly demonstrated that modern
modelling software and gaming engines can readily handle reconstructions on the scale
of an entire urban community. From the perspective of historical reconstruction the key
limitations in creating city-wide representations now lie in the amount of preliminary
historical research required and the man-hours it takes to model the virtual cityscape
which are still significant considerations.
The Edinburgh 1544 project further demonstrated the viability of creating an app
which provided an immersive experience of a pre-modern cityscape, while being of a
size to work effectively on ordinary smartphones. The Virtual Time Binoculars frame-
work is now being tested on other reconstructions, with satisfactory initial results. The
project arguably also highlighted the importance of accompanying new apps with vid-
eos and other content placed on social media and other media sharing platforms which
people are already familiar with. Apps have tremendous potential for onstreet heritage
interpretation experiences, but they should not be the sole focus of future development.
Moving forward, the project team would like to introduce into the Virtual Time Binoc-
ulars apps (and potentially other resources) more information on the historical sources
behind the reconstructions. In so doing they aim to achieve a state where the evidence
from the past, the visualization of the past, and experience of the present seemlessly
integrate encouraging users to embark on their own research journeys into the spaces
and buildings of earlier generations.
11
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Conference Paper
We present the cross reality [Lifton 2007] system 'Mirrorshades', which enables a user to be present and aware of both a virtual reality environment and the real world at the same time. In so doing the challenge of the vacancy problem is addressed by lightening the cognitive load needed to switch between realities and to navigate the virtual environment. We present a case study in the context of a cultural heritage application wherein users are able to compare a reconstruction of an important 15th century chapel with its present day instantiation, whilst walking through them.
Book
The Roman Forum was in many ways the heart of the Roman Empire. Today, the Forum exists in a fragmentary state, having been destroyed and plundered by barbarians, aristocrats, citizens, and priests over the past two millennia. Enough remains, however, for archaeologists to reconstruct its spectacular buildings and monuments. This richly illustrated volume provides an architectural history of the central section of the Roman Forum during the Empire (31 BCE-476 CE), from the Temple of Julius Caesar to the monuments on the slope of the Capitoline hill. Bringing together state of the art technology in architectural illustration and the expertise of a prominent Roman archaeologist, this book offers a unique reconstruction of the Forum, providing architectural history, a summary of each building’s excavation and research, scaled digital plans, elevations, and reconstructed aerial images that not only shed light on the Forum’s history but vividly bring it to life. With this book, scholars, students, architects, and artists will be able to visualize for the first time since antiquity the character, design, and appearance of the famous heart of ancient Rome.
Article
To obtain the views of scholars on the so-called crisis of the scholarly monograph, a questionnaire was sent to 1,416 historians in doctoral/research universities asking about experiences in getting their books published and their opinions on a range of issues relating to publication. Included were questions on refereeing, on the changes they have encountered in the publication process since their first book, on electronic publishing, and on expectations of the future. Additional questions related to their practices as readers and buyers of books. Among the major conclusions were that the refereeing process is considered essential and that it accomplishes its purposes successfully; that there exists widespread reluctance to publish in a format that is available only electronically; that the emphasis on the bottom line in university presses has had an impact on the topics historians have chosen to investigate; that there is no agreement on the kind of books that history needs, although many would like to see more attention paid to what individuals who are interested in history but are not themselves scholars would like to read; and that the majority of historians are not finding it more difficult to get their books published than they did earlier in their careers.
Conference Paper
In digital media - including augmented reality research - rapid change continue to take place at the levels of hardware and software. This paper focus on a third layer in a hierarchy of digital media - meaningware. Meaningware is the domain of digital textuality, its genres and conventions - all key subject matters of the humanities. To prevent cultural lag at the textual level the conduct of genre design is suggested as a methodological approach. The potential 'genre' experimented with here is a type of augmented reality system we have named Situated Simulations. The system takes advantage of the convergence of mobility, broadband, rich graphics capabilities and positioning/orientation technologies, on off the shelf mobile phones. The current platform applied is Apple's iPhone. The paper describes the development of three prototyped situated simulations designed for use in both learning and tourism. Interface and design issues are discussed, and a perspective on the epistemological increment of augmented reality and situated simulations is related to Bateson's notion of double descriptions.
Configuration and dimensions of burgage plots in the burgh of Edinburgh
  • R Tait
PhD thesis at the University of St Andrews
  • C Davies
Homepage for Google Daydream
  • Google Homepage For
  • Cardboard
The really Old Town: 16th-century Edinburgh is brought back to life. i
  • G Mair
  • C Milmo
  • D Leary
  • F Pringle
Picturing the Past Through the Eyes of Reconstruction Artists
  • B Davison
Edinburgh re-emerges from past. The Times
  • G Mair