Solitude: A Head-worn AR Historical Tour

Solitude, the oldest building on Virginia Tech’s campus.

Augmented reality provides a new medium to explore cultural heritage sites, potentially providing benefits over other on-site history learning experiences. Using the Solitude AR Tour as a testbed, we are exploring how to create meaningful historical tours for AR headsets.

The Solitude AR Tour is an experience being developed as part of Virginia Tech’s upcoming 150th anniversary, and explores the history of the oldest building on the Blacksburg campus, Solitude. Originally built as a plantation, Solitude has served several roles, from housing to classrooms, under the university. The primary topics covered by the tour include the indigenous groups that inhabited the land until settlers arrived, the slave families at Solitude, and Solitude’s varied uses and renovation since the founding of Virginia Tech.

The tour incorporates maps, historical documents, video interviews, and 3D models to present the facts and stories from these time periods. Finding the best way to incorporate these elements into the head-worn AR format is the basis of our research.

A historical image of Solitude overlaid on top of present day within the headset.

The project will also be brought over to handheld devices to provide wider availability of the tour. A selection of highlights from the first prototype of the head-worn tour is available to view below.

Highlights from the first full prototype of the Solitude AR Tour.