Interaction Design, UI/UX, Visual Effects

Revival is a mobile APP that combines with AR technology, which aimed to recreate and demonstrate the real street environment from 17th to 20th century to the residents and the potential visitors of Jacob's Island, further, to facilitate the relationships between people and this area


fig. 1 ‘Jacob’s Island (1893)’

I. Introduction

Jacob’s Island, a dramatic area in which it has never been a real physical island and never appeared on maps, experienced through the periods of notorious filthiness that Dickens (1838, p.417) describes, ‘dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations, every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage’, the flourishing Victorian era and the devastating Second World War until today, a prosperously high-class place. Compared to the former centuries, nowadays people who walk around Jacob’s Island seem to have been not paupers as in the nineteen century any more, yet the majority of pedestrians are now upper class, tourists and delicacies-seekers, and the buildings here became restaurants, business offices, pricey hotels and flats because of the lovely view of the River Thames nearby. 


According to this phenomenon, this paper is attempting to explain the process regarding to a creation of technology in a significantly spatial site where smartphone can illustrate a vivid historical street on the screen, structuring a space to remind the residents and indicate the visitors what Jacob’s Island really was/is, and how does its facade be transferred, turning their imagination of streets’ old scenery to a real experience. Therefore, for achieving such a goal, the technology of ‘Augmented Reality (AR) is indispensable. AR, which has been widely applying to various fields since 1990s, is an appropriate tactic to present and express above concept through designing a particular mobile application, which I named it ‘Revival’ and aimed to utilise it on the streets by setting a highly accessible condition for smartphone. This creation will produce both a space of virtual reality onto mobile screens and an augmented reality to viewers’ vision, embodying the historical streets and stories to every user, and enable them to have their own narratives and perspectives towards Jacob’s Island. The following paragraphs are going to perform the possibilities of AR within Jacob’s Island, and furthermore to explore the connection between this technology and the Michael Foucault’s theory ‘Heterotopias’.

II. Argumented Reality (AR)


fig.2 ‘manual of augmented reality’

The concept of Revival is combined with the AR technology that I aimed to manipulate them to demonstrate the environment from 17th to 20th century and the nearest decades to pedestrians who are the potential visitors of Jacob’s Island. AR allows the visitor to view the real streets in the past, and further, to interpret with their own experience within the place. Ronald T. A. (1997) states that ‘Augmented Reality (AR) is a variation of Virtual Environments (VE), or Virtual Reality as it is more commonly called. VE technologies completely immerse a user inside a synthetic environment. While immersed, the user cannot see the real world around him. In contrast, AR allows users to see the real world, with virtual objects superimposed upon or composited with the real world. Therefore, AR supplements reality, rather than completely replacing it. Ideally, it would appear to the user that the virtual and real objects coexisted in the same space’. 

fig.3 ‘3D tyrannosaurus’

Since AR has been invented, we can see its appearances in various fields, such as high-technological devices (i.e. ‘Google Glass’), educational books, and a great deal of video games. In addition, those objects have a mutual character, producing an interactive environment in which the users can effectively enhance their capability of memories by engaging within the situation AR formed. Moreover, it has been complementing perfectly with the remarkable developed technology for smartphone. However, nowadays smartphone is gradually becoming a necessity of normal life to modern people, and due to this, to gather a considerable amount of visitors for participating the past of Jacob’s Island is being  highly achievable. There are several approaches to launch the AR-related devices or applications.

The major approach is by the sensory camera, the basic component that has been generally set in every smartphone, having the capability to detect a particular object, which once has been detected the AR applications will be automatically launched. For instance, the underneath figures are captured from an introduction video for the augmented reality technology in a Ted Talks event in which the woman holds a phone (sensory device) to point at the board of trees (detected object), driving the application, and subsequently, the stage appears a vivid three dimensional tyrannosaurus on the screen roaring at the presenter which scene successfully impacted the witnesses. 

III. Jacob island

According to those descriptions of Jacob’s Island, we can realise there are considerable differences amongst resent centuries. As Hendry (n.d.) states, ‘By 1985, London's docks had relocated downstream to the mouth of the Thames, driven by the urgent need for radical modernization and leaving behind clusters of obsolete, decrepit warehouses all within sight of some of the Capital's greatest landmarks.’ In order to reveal the street’s old faces and to reinforce modern people’s local consciousness on this place, I commenced to organise this concept of design with an interactive process to review the position we stand and the relation between the present and past. It is persuasive that this idea can be suitably completed by the following theory and argument. 


fig.4 ‘the view by Shad Thames’

Hence, it can be argued that the environment created by the AR technology has a significant connection related to Foucault’s ‘Heterotopias’ to a certain extent. Michel Foucault refers that the conception of heterotopias as the opposition of utopia. As he (1967, p352) states, ‘In contrast to the utopias, these places which are absolutely other with respect to all the arrangements that they reflect and of which they speak might be described as heterotopias’. Furthermore, Foucault describes the relationship between these two types of space through the effects of mirror, ‘In it, I see myself where I am not, in an unreal space that opens up potentially beyond its surface; there I am down there where I am not, a sort of shadow that makes my appearance visible to myself, allowing me to look at myself where I do not exist: utopia of the mirror. At the same time, we are dealing with a heterotopia. The mirror really exists and has a kind of comeback effect on the place that I occupy: starting from it, in fact, I find myself absent from the place where I am, in that I see myself in there’ (1967, p352). By above opinion, smartphone can be seen as a metaphor of mirror which is the agency between the virtual and reality. In other words, it is valid to support that the space AR created not only displays the place where I absent (the street in the past that shows on the screen) but also the place where I stand (the position my physical body really exist). 

fig.5 ‘sensory zone (virtual dome)’

IV. App


fig.6 ‘steps of connecting points’

The foundation of this project is based on the street ‘Shad Thames’, and as Hendry (n.d.) describes that nowadays Shad Thames becomes a bright pavement with luxury stores and restaurants, including one of the best eateries in London. (fig.4). Shad Thames is between the Tower Bridge Road and Design Museum in which buildings have been restored during 1980s, but the remarkable lattice bridges that are constructed as the same pattern as in in Polanski’s film Oliver Twist (2005) still retained. 


fig.7 ‘interface’

In addition to this, the plan is to establish two sites with the AR environment where noticeboards are set up for the interpretation of historical transition, and the steps of instruction for Revival. Furthermore, for creating a high accessible situation, both free Wi-fi and QR code will be available on this area. Yet, for successfully launching this Revival, two conditions are required. First, standing in a virtual dome that expands from a certain point as an available sensory zone (fig.5). 

Second, using the sensory camera to connect four detected points as a square (fig.6) towards any angles. Once completed, Revival will be launched automatically, and then the interface (fig.7) simultaneously outlines the shaped square and generates the options of centuries. Subsequently, the street on the chosen century will be demonstrated as a film, and the film’s margin will undeviatingly fit in with the square that has been drawn (fig.8). 


fig.8 ‘the effect of Revival’

V. Conclusion

To conclude, today technology is highly developed and modern buildings are continuously established. It seems that people gradually put the traditional facades into oblivion. However, through Augmented Reality, we can consider that this technology is a new opportunity to revive tradition and history. In this case, as can be understand, AR is an appreciate technique to play the role in reconstructing the streets of Jacob’s Island in the past, and reinforcing the users’ memories by its environment of interaction.

Thus, presumedly Revival is accomplished in the future, applying to every corner around the world, then modern people are not only able to revive significant scenes of every historical heritage, but also to create the new factors of attraction for tourists who have the electronic device ‘smartphone’ with Revival.



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Cluttons, (n.d.). Tea Trade Wharf, London, SE1 - Leasehold. [image online] Available at: [Accessed 25 June 2013]. 

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