Civil Rights augmented reality exhibits at West


Kaylee Milem

Cultural Diversity Club students junior Farnaiza Gulam and sophomore Tray Anna Thomas, visited the library during Falcon Flex, along with the rest of the club to see the new Civil Rights augmented reality exhibits.

Kaylee Milem, Reporter

On Friday, Feb. 7, West received new exhibits in the library. These exhibits use a type of technology called augmented reality (AR), which takes advantage of current hardware, such as a smartphone, to show more information as an overlay for the object shown. West is the third school in the country to have this technology, and the first to have a Civil Rights exhibit.

Tyler Halterman, the creator of this project, works for VictoryXR, a company that strives to use virtual and augmented reality to educate students. Halterman along with Tyler Turner, the director of digital media at VictoryXR, visited West during falcon flex, even staying a little later, to teach the Cultural Diversity Club students how this new technology works, as well as other classes that came to visit. 

“I think my favorite thing is just that, kind of seeing the reactions of people when they get to engage with AR for the first time, and it is really special,” Halterman said. 

To get to the finished artwork, Halterman uses Adobe software to both illustrate and animate the pictures. After the animation, Halterman makes the artwork into a 3D model, then starts programming the app. VictoryXR also had their curriculum specialist write the scripts and do all the research and hired some voice talent to record each script for each activist to use in the app, “Journey For Civil Rights in AR,” which can be found in the App Store and Google Play Store. The app takes advantage of the applications of AR, allowing each display to give a piece of history.

“So the frame itself, if you look at it you can actually see it pops out a bit. Like, Rosa Parks even has a bus, so each one of those models is used to kind of identify a part of their life,” Halterman said. 

There are a total of 12 important Civil Rights activists from the 1700’s through the 1900’s showcased in these exhibits including Dred Scott, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Madam CJ Walker, Jesse Owens, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King Jr, and Ruby Bridges.

The exhibit has not only allowed students to learn things about history, but also its creator.

“It is incredible how much I have learned just by making this project,” Halterman said. 

This is the first Civil Rights augmented reality project that VictoryXR has done. In the past, they have done over 50 virtual reality educational experiences, mostly dealing with science. Some include the dissection of a shark, a frog, and even a starfish. They have also done lots of augmented reality projects, some including, an educational book where the dinosaurs pop out, as well as another educational book that teaches about cells. 

“We have, I would say over 100, probably, experiences overall, and this one I just feel is very simple yet very educational,” Turner said. 

While the students were in the library taking this experience in, Turner was with his camera. For this project he was mainly doing all of the marketing, which includes creating a video to make people aware of this technology to spread it to more schools to educate students.

“This project in particular, I really enjoyed the fact that it is probably the most insightful educational piece that we have created. Mostly because not a lot of people know about these people and the things that they did, there’s things I learned throughout the process of creating this that I’d never be able to learn,” Turner said.