DSI Blog


Augmented Reality Now Playing at Kansas City’s Union Station

Posted by on March 23, 2015 9:25 pm

Stroll through the soaring corridors of one of Kansas City’s favorite landmarks, Union Station, and you’ll not only have a chance to see history—you can actually experience it. Union Station’s new permanent digital exhibit, Living History, uses augmented reality to illustrate “how this iconic monument and transportation hub was a key driver in Kansas City’s growth and expansion to help it become the city it is today.”

The collaborative effort between VML, a digital marketing and advertising agency; Union Station; Gimbal, a location-aware mobile engagement platform; and Moblico, an in-app marketing platform, uses a carefully crafted combination of technologies to produce a self-guided, immersive experience that showcases key moments in Union Station history while also giving visitors the chance to take pictures of themselves standing in the midst of these moments, thereby becoming a part of the story.

How Does It Work?

Once you download the free Living History mobile app, you’ll receive a pop-up notification as you near one of the 11 experiences (which are also marked on an in-app map). Markers on the floor will tell you where to stand and point your device, and an alert will prompt you to start the story. By holding your mobile device in front of you, a combination of iBeacons and architectural triggers will launch the scene, which plays on your mobile screen. As the video plays, a built-in camera option allows you to take photos of the historical reenactment (and the people you’re with can jump in the photograph, too!)

Augmented Reality: Headed to the Enterprise?

AR exhibits like Living History represent an exciting new direction for museums and other tourism destinations. Yet does this technology have potential in the enterprise? The short answer: absolutely.

Because AR combines computer-generated images superimposed onto real-world views, the technology could be a game-changer for a variety of industries, especially if remote field work is involved. Imagine, for example, a field service worker who can see part numbers, plans or other relevant details projected over the physical object (a piece of equipment or machinery, for example), whether to guide repairs or help facilitate inspections and preventative maintenance. No cumbersome instruction manuals are required; and provided the company has technology that can work in disconnected environments, the field workers can access the information wherever and whenever it’s needed.

AR also brings a number of promising uses to the warehouse. We’re exploring the use of wearables like glasses which, combined with our mobile platform, can give warehouse workers hands-free capabilities as they fulfill their picking, packing, shipping and other tasks, adding more convenience, efficiency and functionality to the entire process.

According to a report from Gigaom Research, AR is already in use in several industries, including law enforcement, healthcare, the military, education and auto manufacturing. What stops AR from being more widely used? As with any newer tech phenomenon, devices are expensive, which means an AR implementation is going to be costly—in most cases, prohibitively so. Gigaom Research also cites an absence of standards and lack of an app ecosystem as two additional adoption inhibitors. The good news? These are all obstacles that can be overcome, especially as the technology becomes more widely used.

What sort of possibilities do you envision for AR in the enterprise? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter using hashtag #DSILabs. And if you’re in the Kansas City area, be sure to check out Living History at Union Station!

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