The purpose of this capstone is to engage one of the oldest communities in Maine in a new immersive technology, allowing for preservation of history and education. Keeping with the theme of connecting the old with the new, the plan with this project is to connect this new technology with antique machinery, making for a new experience via a familiar vehicle. The idea revolves around a Virtual Reality simulation installed in an antique coin-operated binocular machine, often found at popular scenic tourist attractions. The simulation will be installed at the end of the pier at Fort Foster Park in Kittery, Maine. Kittery is the oldest established town in the state of Maine, with a large population of WWII veterans and their descendants. The park has become a popular beach, yet the rich history is not very well known. Starting as an important Native American trading port, then a family-owned farm, later the site of a massive hotel in the 1800’s, a Civil War Fort, a WWII Fort, and finally, a town park. This application has recreated these historic scenes in Virtual Reality, and allows the user to peer through the “binoculars” and travel back in time.
A number of historic and modern photographs of the Kittery area were used to 3D model buildings and objects in Blender, the 3D modeling software. Free assets on the Unity store were able to be used as well. A tutorial was followed to create a C# script that would allow the user to teleport by simply staring at an object until the circle filled up like a timer. The app created can be used in any smartphone VR headset, including Google Cardboard.
The goal with this project is to continue creating these simulations as art installations in different places. There is a plan to propose this project to the town of Kittery in the summer of 2019, and permanently install this piece in the park, with all funds raised going back into the town. This project will be continued in other locations to help communities discover and celebrate their history, as well as raise money through the coin donations in the machine itself.