“Walking Cinema: Museum of the Hidden City” uses location-based audio, Augmented Reality, and documentary film making to address affordable housing issues in San Francisco, and is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through this two and half hour long AR experience, users physically traverse the Fillmore District as they are told the story of the neighborhood through two historical characters, each of whom narrates the tour in spoken word poetry, which is written and performed by young Bay Area poets. This emotional story, driven by community-based empathy, gives users an immersive look at how the district was impacted by affordable housing projects.
With our research program, we sought to better understand the target user populations for “Walking Cinema: Museum of the Hidden City,” and how such populations are affected by this experience. In addition to identifying the user populations whose interests are most aligned with this experience, we glean insights into these populations’ expectations, motivations, goals, and preferences. Additionally, we found that the experience had profound, multifaceted effects on the participants. Both visitors and San Francisco natives were interested in learning more, they felt more engaged with their community, and they felt closer to the physical location that they were exploring. All in all, the impact of this experience can be summed up in the words of one participant, Olivia: “It colored in a story for me about a city I felt familiar with. It showed me my blinds spots and encouraged me to work to fill them on my own.” Our research proves the profound impact that this location-based AR experience will have on the users’ understanding of San Francisco. Furthermore, in addition to bolstering users’ understanding, this experience will foster emotional investment and actionable engagement within the community.
M. Epstein & L. M. Herman, “Location-Based Augmented Reality Journalism and Civic Participation,” In Proceedings of the 10th Media in Transition Conference, 2019.