Augmented Reality Concepts for Urban Planning. Master’s Thesis (2010)

Deliverables: a written report, four application concepts, storyboards, presentations.

Augmented Reality technologies (AR) have been developed since early 1990’s. AR extends our senses: virtual 3D-content, video or audio, is overlaid on the real world in real time, and correctly fitted in three dimensions (i.e. location, scale, perspective).

The strength of AR is its ability to convey “here and now” experience, to show what could be or what has been, while people move around.

In my thesis I explore the potential of AR technology from urban planning perspective. Can AR support collaborative planning? Could it help us model, simulate and evaluate the upcoming change, and thus facilitate decision making?

To address these problems and questions, I developed concepts of collaborative applications for professionals and non-experts alike.

Central to these applications is that residents are enabled to access information about future buildings, recreation areas etc. in a relevant form, without requiring them to think like professional designers.

Good environment is a common interest. Interpretations of it vary. Experts meet residents often in an adversarial situation. Planners complain about residents’ inability to pass over holistic information that is relevant to the planning, or that people are not comfortable with the idea of change, hence they resist any new development. Residents feel that they are not really listened to. The illustration needs of different parties are in juxtaposition: planners prefer sketchy images that allow several interpretations and new alternatives to emerge, whereas formal 2D documents, projections and especially maps are generally not understood too well by “lay people”.

AR applications could help people to understand the solutions’ impact on their milieu – and own life.

Below: Concept storyboards. Concept A, originally 840×297 mm. Concepts B, C and D originally 420×297 mm.