Augmented Reality to Improve Civic Engagement
eLens explored conceptual issues of a cityscape augmented with digital information.
In 2005, the Mobile Experience Lab began a project—working with Telefonica, Motorola, Cisco, and the Generalitat de Catalunya in Barcelona—to allow institutions and citizens to “tag” their city virtually by posting electronic messages for one another in physical locations. A user points a mobile device at a tagged location, enabling access of the eLens platform to leave or retrieve information in the form of text, voice, image, or video. This enriches the physical environment by combining formal and institutional information with informal communication and personal annotation. Projects like the eLens have the potential to increase civic participation while, at the same time, enhancing a city’s cultural life by fostering hyper-local conversations.