The liquid light, for which Vancouver was infamous for, is once again ready for you to experience it. A new augmented reality app allows users to experience the city and its streets the way they were during the neon era.
Museum of Vancouver launched this augmented reality app called Visible City this week. The app uses GPS and camera of your smartphone/ tablet, interviews, and AR technology for layering old pictures over the present streetscape. Hanna Cho, the curator of the museum says, “It’s a virtual exhibition. It invites people to treat the city as a museum itself.”
Through your mobile tour, users can track the rise and fall as well as the revival of Vancouver’s neon era. The app will shine a light on people who played their lives out under the lights, telling their stories to create a “textured social history of Vancouver, illuminated by neon.”
This augmented reality app has various interactive time-shifting features combined with archival photos, audio narratives, vignettes, some written text, and memories of people regarding places like Granville Street and Ovaltine Café during concerts. You will also find Joey Keithley talking about performing at the Smiling Buddha. However, the Museum of Vancouver is really excited about the augmented reality feature of this app.
The app will layer the spot you are standing in with an old photo. If you are at Columbia Street and West Pender, you can see the enormous neon sign of Foo’s Ho Ho Restaurant that graced the corner of the building. Though the building has been taken down, you can stand in a specific location and use your phone’s camera to look at the building and see what it looked like along with its neon sign.
Android and iPhone users can get this app for free to enjoy guided walking tours of the Hastings-Chinatown area and the Granville strip, the two ‘neon neighborhoods’ of the city.
Cho further says, “You can hear stories from people like Tannis Ling, who revived a neon sign for her restaurant Boa Bi, Mark Brand who talks about why the sign for Save On Meats is so important, and Judy Graves who talks about the infamous but beautiful hotel signs along Hastings and the stories of the people whose lives were illuminated beneath and behind them.”
The city life of Vancouver bustled beneath a colorful neon signs for decades and this augmented reality app provides a real sense of the city’s yesteryear, when bask in that glow.