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Earthquake AR

Research Area: Augmented Reality
Status: Not started  
Project leaders: Billinghurst, Mark Grasset, Raphael Collaborators:
In cooperation with University of Canterbury
Proposed start date: 2010-10-01 Proposed end date: 2011-10-07

External contributor:

Jason Mill (ZNO): web GIS design of the 3D models and discussion around life cycle of digital buildings.


On September 4th 2010 at 4:35 am Christchurch was hit by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, damaging over 6,000 buildings and costing an estimate $4 Billion in repairs. Many buildings will need to be demolished and it will be years before reconstruction is complete.

The Earthquake AR project was started in response to this emergency and explores how mobile Augmented Reality can be used to visualize reconstructed buildings and show other earthquake related information on site. It is based on the HIT Lab NZ Android AR platform which allows users to see virtual buildings overlaid on the real world with an Android mobile phone.

Using Earthquake AR people can walk around the city and see life-sized virtual models of buildings in place of where the real buildings used to be. These models show what the building looked like on site before it was demolished, as well as alternative designs for future buildings that might be erected in the same place. Users can add their own feedback on the buildings shown, so architects and urban planners can use the tool to get input from people about their designs.

The platform allows over information to be shown in place as well. For example, there are over a thousand stories people have submitted about their experience in the earthquake which can also appear as virtual tags overlaid on the real world. So people walking through the city can learn about the survivor’s experiences in the locations it happened.

Future work will look at including more data sets such as showing power and utility information, and in connecting this system to more traditional GIS viewing software. Ongoing research could lead to a mobile Augmented Reality platform that could be quickly deployed in response to a natural disaster and provide invaluable on-site information.




TVNZ coverage on Earthquake AR

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Ilam, Christchurch
New Zealand

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University of Canterbury

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Canterbury Development Corporation