This research work aims to present the main aspects of developing an Augmented Reality platform, capable of delivering multimedia content, text/images and 3D models on users’ mobile devices, while they are navigated in modern urban environment. The starting point of this navigation is “street names” which contain significant historical information. Moreover, it is located on the border between official and unofficial memory and could be a useful presumption of the elements that actually establish the “common memory” of a community, contributing positively to their categorization. Implementing such an application for a city’s environment met various challenges, from both a technological and content’s aspect. The research contributes to further understand how augmented reality and historical information/content can be used under a single application to deliver high-value services to specific categories of end-users, such as touristic audience. The CARAT project has been funded as a flagship project of the National Scope Action "RESEARCH-CREATE-INNOVATE" of the Operational Programme Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
This paper aims to present CARAT project which is based on Augmented Reality technology. A web platform was developed aiming to collect, organize and register the information contained in the street names of the center of Athens and Piraeus. The main goal was not only to record but also to group the volume of information related to the content of a name or place or cultural monuments (point of cultural interest). Access to the platform was provided to historicists, academic personnel and content providers, while content is described as series of text and pictures (2D content), multimedia (sound and video) as well as 3D models.
Web platform hosts all the data related with city’s streets but moreover organizes the information according to its historical period, facilitating end users to choose their own historical routes by “following” content. End – users can download an application to their smartphones capable to use geolocation alongside with “text recognition” in order to bring the right content for the right street. Moreover, if end – user accept that the content delivered is “interesting” a series of cultural routes will be generated so that to provide points of interest (based on the historical period – e.g. ancient times or roman years, etc.). So the project aimed to explore the technological and historical potentialities lying under street names, offering:
1. reliable historical information about the origin of a street’s name through augmented reality technologies,
2. a linkage of concepts and historical periods, which are evoked by the street’s name, with places of cultural interest (cultural points of interest),
3. guidance to the visitor, while suggesting thematic – historical walks in the town,
4. personally tailored, customized information,
5. enrichment of users experience when touring in a more or less known city,
6. distinct geographical dimension (e.g. cultural routes will differ from city to city, even if there are some common street names, as a result of differences in existing points of interest such as museums, sculptures etc.).
Proposed research in street names revealed that (street names):
1. They have an enormous number. In Greece, "unique" street names exceed 22 thousand, while in Attica Region only the number exceeds 8 thousand.
2. They cover a large time span. The names range from mythological elements of early antiquity to more recent (recent events and historical figures of modern times). Usually cumulatively, street names cover the entire historical development of a state.
3. They address multiple thematic areas. Names relate to history (names, dates, events), science, politics (persons and events), sports, arts, religion, volunteering, social contribution, etc.
4. They capture the collective, popular memory. As the street names are the result of decisions of the Municipal Councils, while the names that are finally assigned reflect the collective memory not only as a whole (nationally), but also locally as many streets have names of local personalities relatively unknown to the rest of the public.
5. It is a dynamic - evolving element. As the history of a state evolves, new names replace the old ones.
The research contributes to further understand how augmented reality and historical information / content can be used under a single application to deliver high – value services to touristic audience.