The Alamo through Virtual Reality

One of the top tourist destinations in San Antonio, Texas is the site of the historic battle of the Alamo. Now with the help of virtual reality, visitors can experience the legendary siege of the Alamo like never before.

TRANSCRIPT

One of the top tourist destinations in San Antonio, Texas, is the site of the historic Battle of the Alamo.

Now, with the help of virtual reality, visitors can experience the legendary siege of the Alamo like never before.

Here's a look.

So, our app is sort of a new way to actually experience the Alamo.

We started over a year ago in a mind-set of trying to provide an additional way that the citizens and the visitors of the Alamo can actually really gain knowledge of the experience.

Well, the conversation society is very excited about the new technology that allows us to interpret and re-interpret historic sites without altering the physical fabric.

You can really take people to a past event, like the battle for the Alamo, through augmented reality.

This app is called augmented reality, and what augmented reality is, is where you look at, with an iPad or an iPhone, and you look at a scene.

Then we overlay an animation or a picture into that scene to give you more information about that scene.

And I have kids that are very, very young.

And we realize that everybody spends more time on their phones when you go to a site or a visitors' experience.

And so this was more of a way to actually gain their knowledge and their interest in it.

So, we've spent a lot of time in developing the product and actually being able to bring in all the historical and bringing up the walls around us of the 1836 Alamo.

So, there are 14 sites that we've chosen around the Alamo Plaza that are significant in the telling of the story of the Alamo.

And one of those locations that we have is where you can stand and a portal will appear in front of you that's just a doorway.

And that doorway is into 1836.

And you can walk into that doorway, and once you're in there, you're in 1836 Alamo.

And as you spin around, all these buildings disappear, and you see the Alamo the way it was in 1836, to scale.

So, if you're standing next to the long barracks over there -- That used to be 23 feet high.

And when you're standing there and you look up, it goes up 23 feet high.

And you can see the clouds above and all that, and you can see the whole structure of the way it used to be.

And then you can look over here and this is where the palisade was and this is where Davy Crockett defended the Alamo.

And we can watch that happen.

And so in each of these places, we can go around and we can see exactly what it was like in 1836.

And then we also have a feature where you can step on a little pad on the ground and it's an elevator and it takes you up above and you get a bird's-eye view of the battle happening below you.

I think this is a way to better understand the Plaza in all of its historical layers.

And I don't worry about it devaluing the original.

People still want to see it.

People used to see pictures.

They would still come see it.

They would see movies.

They'd still come see it.

Now they'll be able to see three-dimensional, augmented reality on their screen at home.

They'll still want to come and see it and experience it here and know the places where the battle happened, where the Alamo Mission was.

I do believe that the time is already passed that our kids, our kids' kids -- the phone and the iPads and the devices that they have is already ingrained in them.

There's no way that we're gonna be able to backtrack from that.

And being able to provide a technology that really gives them history and other content in their phones is a plus.

I think it is a balancing act.

At a certain time, they need to look away from phones, but if we can actually give them history and additional good educational content through those devices, that's a good thing.

Well, I did a CD-ROM about the Alamo in '94, '95.

And it was a desktop application.

I was the first film production company to shoot inside the Alamo since 1906.

And it gave a really great history of the Alamo, but you could never get a feel for exactly being at the Alamo and seeing that happen.

But with augmented reality, you can stand at the place where the history happened, and you can see what it looked like and watch that battle unfold right there where it happened.

So, it makes it incredibly engaging and also expands your understanding of the site.

Knowing my kids, they actually have grown to enjoy history, but any time we actually go to actually see history or actually learn about it, their interest always gets distracted in looking at other things in the modern world.

So, being able to bring this to our home city -- The Alamo is something, you know, I've grown up with, and I've lived here all my life.

And to actually be able to translate that to them in a way that they really understand and really get excited about was a special thing to us.