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A window on the past

Free app provides insight into the history and architecture of the University’s Old College site.

A window on the past

Just over a year ago Karen Forbes, Professor of Art at Edinburgh College of Art and Jonathan Messer, Research and Development Director at Luma 3Di, approached the University’s Senior Vice Principal of External Engagement, Mary Bownes, with a stunning new way of visually sharing knowledge and information.

Better than reality

Karen’s role at ECA is focused on exploring new developments in art, image-making and architecture. One of these developments is the field of augmented reality (AR).

Different and distinct from virtual reality, which uses technology to create a simulated world, AR provides a view of a physical, real-world environment that is supplemented with computer generated elements.

In the case of Luma 3Di, this took the form of exploring objects in 3D via a tablet computer such as an Apple iPad.

Technology in a vacuum

It is a compelling and visually arresting technology but without a subject matter that has significance and resonance it is meaningless.

This was an issue that Mary Bownes focused in on when considering how to best use AR to support her external engagement activity.

It was fascinating but it took me a little while to figure out how to take advantage of the technology.

Mary BownesSenior Vice Principal of External Engagement

Something old, something new

Inspired by the archaeological discoveries that were made during the renovations of Old College quad in 2011, Mary commissioned a trial looking inside the Playfair Library Hall as well as externally at the Old College site.

The result is history explored in a visual and accessible way. The app that has been produced allows you, via an interactive timeslider, to trace the development of the site from its ecclesiastical origins in the 13th century to the present day.

Old College app

How to view

The app entitled ‘The University of Edinburgh, Old College: A window on the past’ can be downloaded from iTunes, Google Play or Amazon for free by using the links below.

Download ‘The University of Edinburgh, Old College: A window on the past’ for Android (Amazon)

You can also download a selection of ‘tracker images’ from the Luma 3Di website which act as virtual portals, allowing you to use your device's camera to view the history of the site.

Please find out more by following the link below.

Download tracker images on the Luma 3Di website

Treasure tracker

Treasure Trapper

Another recently released app developed by the University is 'Treasure Trapper', an interactive game that turns Edinburgh into a digital treasure hunt, as children are challenged to collect some of the city’s most valuable artefacts that have been lost around the city.

The game has been developed by Design Informatics in partnership with Edinburgh Bus Tours (part of Lothian Buses and Transport for Edinburgh), the City of Edinburgh Council's museums and galleries, and the Assembly Rooms.

Please note that it is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and is optimised for iPhone 5.

Download 'Treasure Trapper' (iTunes)