ARC Fellows: Augmented Reality for the Public Good: Urban Engagement and Sustainability

Augmented Reality for the Public Good: Urban Engagement and Sustainability

Submitted by our 2017 ARC Fellow Team:

Peter Bittner and Richard Hernandez (New Media, Graduate School of Journalism)

Note: Peter and Richard are coordinating an event on campus for Fall 2017. They have other student and staff collaborators on the project from across campus.

Our project, “Augmented Reality for the Public Good: Urban Engagement and Sustainability,” is a weekend-long workshop and “ideathon” scheduled for September 29 to October 1, 2017. The purpose of our event is to generate applications for mixed-media mobile technologies on the field of urban design and sustainability. The project grew out of a cross-discipline collaboration between myself, an architect, an urban designer, and a sustainability consultant from across the country. Meeting at a US State Department AlumniTIES event in September, we quickly fed off of our common passion for sustainability to help generate ideas to apply emerging technologies to the field of urban green urban engagement.

The aim of the planned workshop is for participants to work in groups to generate grand but achievable ideas for AR mobile apps that promote urban sustainability—in order to to tackle issues such as climate change and pollution. We plan to convene 40 students from disciplines across campus with backgrounds in computer science, sustainability, and business in addition to 20 Bay Area professionals with expertise in these fields. Interdisciplinary teams of 4 to 5 people led by these experts will compete with one another to create and present AR mockups, sample use-cases, and pitches before a panel of judges. To attract students, the top 3 teams will receive cash prizes or in-kind product donations from our sponsors based on their performance in the competition.

Based at the Graduate School of Journalism, both Peter and Richard are focused on harnessing new forms of media as emerging storytelling platforms. Augmented reality has exploded in popularity in the past year, but is still in its very early stages of development and market maturation. We think that this project will give us some insights into how to develop mobile journalism applications to creatively connect audiences with compelling content.

It’s only appropriate that our project continues within the ARC Fellows program as an interdisciplinary endeavor. The diverse research group is a perfect fit our current project because of our initiative’s deep intersections with the fields of Climate and Environment and Arts and Urban Design. During this semester our work has helped advance a campus conversation on the potential for emerging mobile technologies as mediums for “green” urban engagement while employing important principles of arts and design. We hope to continue leverage the ARC Fellow community in order to facilitate the interdisciplinary involvement at the very heart of our initiative. By natural extension, our team would gladly extend an invitation to interested members of the campus community to take part in our workshop as speakers, facilitators, or attendees.

Peter Bittner is a New Media student at the Graduate School of Journalism. His Master’s project employs 3D and 360 technologies to document Mongolia’s pollution-induced public health crisis. His reporting passions are environmental and human rights issues in East Asia.

Richard Koci Hernandez is a National Emmy Award winning multimedia producer and Assistant Professor of New Media at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.  He recently authored the book, The Principles of Multimedia Journalism, Routledge, 2016.

Note:Over the course of the spring semester, each 2017 ARC Fellows team will submit a short blog post about their project and findings. We hope you will enjoy these short readings! The Fellows Program advances interdisciplinary research in the arts at UC Berkeley by supporting self-nominated pairs of graduate students and faculty members as they pursue semester-long collaborative projects of their own design. To learn more about the program, click here.