White House Historical Association Releases Augmented Reality App

The White House Historical Association is using augmented reality to engage younger audiences and educate the public on the house’s history.

Through its new mobile app, the White House Historical Association (WHHA) has experimented with augmented reality to take the public on a virtual tour of the White House.

The “1600” app, named for the building’s famous street address, lets users watch the “People’s House” change over the seasons as White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest narrates its history. Simply open the app and hold the camera over a $1 bill, and the White House will rise from the ground as its many occupants and visitors roam the gardens and participate in its seasonal events.

“One of our objectives was to meet learners, young people where they are,” WHHA Vice President for Marketing and Communications Lara Kline said. “And experimenting with augmented reality is certainly a space where that audience is, and so we know this joins a fairly short list of augmented reality apps … that folks can experiment with.”

The free app was created to educate users on White House history in an engaging way. They can interact with the 3D video by moving their phones around to see different views of the building’s exterior and clicking on the screen to find hidden surprises.

“It’s a conversation starter,” Kline said. “This is just to get you excited about the idea of White House history, whether you’re interested in the Easter Egg Roll, in an arrival ceremony, or the holiday decorations.”

Experimenting with augmented reality is one of the many recent ways the White House and WHHA have been working with newly introduced technology. The association sees new technology as a means to share the histories and stories it needs to tell with the people who need to hear them.

“Engaging the public at every age in White House history is an incredibly exciting task and responsibility,” Kline said. “So, as we think about how our mission remains relevant for younger audiences as technology has advanced, one of things we think about is [since] we have a lot of stories to tell, what is the best platform to tell those stories on?”

To connect students with the stories, WHHA has reached out to teachers and educators nationwide to inform them of the new app, which was created in partnership with the White House and UK-based company Nexus Studios.

“Connecting individuals to White House history is our mission and our passion,” WHHA President Stewart D. McLaurin said in a press release. “Partnering with the White House and Nexus Studios to bring the Executive Mansion to life in an engaging, and new way through augmented reality demonstrates the important role history plays today in creating meaningful education experiences and context.”

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Alex Beall

By Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. MORE

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