State Park Visitor Engagement with Augmented Reality

Our Wisconsin state parks, forests, trails, and recreational areas offer a variety of experiences for each visitor. Overlooks, majestic trails, and areas of solitude can be enjoyed in any season. Building on incredible visitor experiences is essential to a destination’s success. Augmented reality(AR) can enhance that experience through mainstream technologies.
Wyalusing state park is the first state park in Wisconsin to provide visitors with the option of augmented reality. Augmented reality allows the park’s visitors to become engaged in the total experience. They watch and listen as the  Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration worked to improve park roads, trails, and buildings. Park visitors view interactive maps of trails. “It’s almost as though each visitor has their own naturalist with them,” said Randy Paske.
Paske, is the vice-president of the Friends of Wyalusing and a board member of the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks. He became interested in the concept of using augmented reality and tourism in a recent seminar held by the Wisconsin Department of  Natural Resources in Madison, Wisconsin. “I looked for the most economical way to bring the augmented reality experience to our state parks, forests, trails, and natural areas,” he said. “”It’s implementation had to be easy for our visitors with a minimum amount of technological expertise “
Wyalusing State Park became the first state park to implement augmented reality. The program has been approved by the DNR and The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks. The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks also is a sponsor. “The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks hope to add additional state parks this summer”, said Paske.
How does it work?
Each park visitor receives a park newspaper highlighting the park’s history, trails, and must-see places. Finding your way around the trails and roads, although marked with signage, can be challenging. AR elevates the typical navigation maps by adding digital elements such as arrows, pointers, and simulated fly-overs showing the typography of trails.
AR enhances the informational signage. Imagine, pointing your internet capable mobile device camera at the sign and a movie with narration appears in place of the sign. “It is exciting to see how AR enhances the experience,” said Paske.
At Wyalusing State Park, one can find more than 25 places, where augmented reality can be used.
What do you need?
Al that is needed is an internet capable mobile device and an APP. The name of the free app is HP Reveal. The app was formerly called Aurasma. The second thing needed is to know when and where to point the camera. The app has small icons showing the locations in the park. The third thing needed is maybe a little patience. “This is not a perfect system. The app is dependent on having an internet connection to work. Additionally, the viewfinder can be finicky. Although we have tried to choose objects that work 100% of the time, a change in lighting or another uncontrollable factor can cause the app to be unable to recognize the image. When the app is unable to recognize the image the overlay will not appear.” said Paske
“We hope you visit as many of our Wisconsin state parks, forests, and trails as you can. Experience the reality and the Augmented Reality.”
Here is a link to a brochure: