ITEX: Christchurch rebuild app extended to more smartphones

Official launch of an app that virtually rebuilds the CBD will take place in Cashel Mall next month

An augmented reality application capable of virtually rebuilding Christchurch’s central business district will be officially launched on December 10 on the site of Cashel Mall with its temporary shops housed in shipping containers.

The application was originally developed at HITlabNZ (the Human Interface Technology Laboratory) at Canterbury University, for high-end Android phones, but has now been tailored to work also on more basic models and on the iPhone.

Users can walk around central Christchurch looking through their phone’s camera and see 3D simulations of the original buildings on their sites. As replacements are planned, these too will be included in the database so smartphone users with the app will see the proposed building simulated on-site.

This will stimulate and assist discussion of rebuilding proposals, says developer Mark Billinghurst, who presented the application at the ITEX conference. Details of the building’s history will also be viewable.

Billinghurst presented the initial version of the app, following the September earthquake last year at a function last October to launch the Webstock 2011 conference.

The application to iPhones and smaller Androids has required a trimming down of the database. The digital building models, maintained by architect Jason Mills, have been simplified to take up less storage space, says Billinghurst and an on-demand mode has been introduced, so the whole database does not have to be accessible at once. A set of tags naming the buildings will first be seen and on clicking on any building, the app will download the full 3D rendering of that particular building.

The app is provided free of charge. It can be downloaded, Billinghurst says, by looking for CityViewAR on the Android Market, or by scanning the QR code here.

There is also a direct link to the app here.

Only about 100 copies have been downloaded so far, Billinghurst says, but with the December event and the applicability to a wider range of devices, 1000 or so downloads can be expected by Christmas, he says.

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