How AR helps students explore culture and history

How AR helps students explore culture and history

Lanit-Tercom Italia and the Italian startup Augmented.City have launched an educational project in augmented reality about the history and culture of the city of Bari. Together with the Istituto Preziosissimo Sangue (IPS) and with support from the Academy of St. Nicholas’ Citadel and the Basilica of St. Nicholas, a mobile app with AR elements was developed. In a playful way, AR engages young residents and guests of Bari in the study of the city's history. Significantly, secondary and elementary schools students took part in the project.

The solution marked the first step in the Academy of St. Nicholas’ Citadel digitalization. The project will serve to increase its popularity among tourists and young people. The creators showed that AR technology can be intelligible not only to tech companies, but also to 10-14 years old students. The schoolchildren’ ideas were reflected in the project: the app content was created not by adults for children, but by children for themselves.

Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker is highly revered among believers around the world. In Western European and North American cultures he is the prototype of the folklore character Santa Claus who brings gifts to children at Christmas. The IPS students who took part in the project, immersed themselves in the study of these parts of culture and religion. They got acquainted with the traditions and legends associated with St. Nicholas, the basilica’s architectural features and highlighted the symbols that best reflect the legacy of the saint.

So the first AR-animation in Italy as a realistic St. Nicholas’ 3D model appeared near the basilica. It was created by the Russian 3D artist Sergei Pastukhov (also works under the pseudonym m-dept). When creating the model, he takes into account all the details of the St. Nicholas statue, installed in the basilica of Bari, and the schoolchildren’ recommendations.

To see the image of the saint and walk along the entire fascinating AR route, you only need a cellphone or pad with the AC Viewer app installed. Such elements of gamification attract the attention of even a casual viewer and create a vivid memorable impression. The saint’s figure moves in space, soars above the ground at the main entrance on the square in front of the temple, moves to its center, stops and invites visitors to go to the basilica. On advice of the students, animated fish were placed in 3D space, symbolizing the sea. According to legend, the ashes of Nicholas the Wonderworker arrived in Bari in 1087 by the sea are still guarding the city. Also, on the basis of the studied symbols, schoolchildren have developed a logo, which in the future may indicate a route for young tourists in the historical part of the city.

Katerina Ufnarovskaya, Lanit-Tercom Italia CEO: “It is not easy to acquaint young people with such intelligible things as the history of culture and religion. An approach must be found. Gamification, favorite animated characters, technologies – these things are close to them. AR-technology allowed schoolchildren to get acquainted with the historical heritage of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in a fascinating way and made the Basilica of St. Nicholas’ Citadel an even more attractive place for tourists.”