Tram passengers to see UC-designed views city

21 November 2013

When the Christchurch trams resume next week for the first time since the 2011 earthquake, passengers will be able to view the city as it was via the tram's television screens

Tram passengers to see UC-designed views city

Professor Mark Billinghurst

When the Christchurch trams resume next week for the first time since the 2011 earthquake, passengers will be able to view the city as it was via the tram’s television screens using University of Canterbury (UC) designed software based on the CityViewAR app. 

The screen is connected to a mobile phone and UC’s HIT Lab New Zealand has developed software to show views and videos of what the city was like according to the location of the tram. 

Some of the pictures show how the building looked, some show how it will be rebuilt, and some video clips show other tourist attractions. 

The software was developed by UC’s Professor Mark Billinghurst who received the 2013 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award for his work in advancing the field of augmented reality.

He is one of the world’s leading researchers in augmented reality, which is an important emerging digital technology. Augmented reality allows computer graphics to be inserted into a view of the real world and creates the illusion of virtual content becoming part of the user’s real environment.

The display on the Christchurch trams will be up and running when the trams begin rolling again on November 27.

The tram track will pass iconic sites including the Arts Centre, the Canterbury Museum, New Regent Street and Cathedral Square. The track will extend to a much larger loop next year. 

"This has been a project applied to reviving the city,’’ Professor Billinghurst says.

"It is exciting to engage in helping rebuild our city. The reopening of the trams shows relevance to UC contributing to Christchurch of the future. While riding on the renovated trams, passengers will now be able to see how the streets and buildings of Christchurch looked before and how it will be rebuilt in the future.

"UC’s HIT Lab NZ worked with Welcome Aboard, a local business running the trams in Christchurch, to develop the location-based information display for the trams.

"The display installed on the trams uses information from a global positioning system sensor on a mobile device to show relevant pictures and video clips on the screen. Passengers can compare the sights through the tram window to the pictures and video clips of the street before the earthquakes on the screen.

"The mobile AR technology was used for the CityViewAR smartphone app, which shows the three dimensional virtual buildings in place in the city of Christchurch and lets the users see the city as it was before the earthquakes.’’

Last year, Professor Billinghurst received an international award for co-authoring the best paper presented at the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality conference in the last decade.

Yesterday, Professor Billinghurst and UC mathematics and statistics professor Charles Semple were appointed Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

For further information please contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Student Services and Communications
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168

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