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Who's Blogging


Retha Hill is the Director of the New Media Innovation Lab and a Professor of Practice at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Hill joined the Cronkite faculty in the summer of 2007 after nearly eight years at BET.

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Project Blog: Mobile Black History Project

Imagine pointing your mobile phone at a Washington, D.C., landmark and reading about its relevance in African-American history. Layering data over real life is at the center of the emerging field of augmented reality, and this mobile phone application will bring black history to the forefront, starting with historic sites in Washington, D.C. Retha Hill, a recent Knight News Challenge winner and director of the New Media Innovation Lab at Arizona State University, will run the project.

Layar Version Up and Running in Eight Cities

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Black History Augmented Reality app has been well received by people who have used it. Currently, it is available through the Layar browser, an augmented reality application for most smartphones.  Layar works on the iPhone, and a version of the Black History Augmented Reality app specifically for iPhone is under development.

To find and use it, download the Layar browser and search for “black history”. If you live in or visit Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Richmond, Charleston, Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans or Phoenix, you can see points of interest pop up around your city.

I partnered with my fellow New Media Women Entrepreneurs at NolaVie to develop the locations for New Orleans.  You can read more about it here.

Currently, I am working on content for Chicago, Nashville, Detroit and New York City.  Ideally, I will crowdsource more content for existing and additional cities but need to work out a way to verify each entry. That means additional hands willing to help a startup by fact checking.  Until I get more funds to pay for that help, the bulk of the content will be researched and written by me.

My Boulder-based developers are still working on the iPhone version and have been at the mercy of software that is not overly friendly to augmented reality. We hope to have the iPhone version done for testing in a couple of weeks. As you can imagine, it is frustrating to have to wait so long, but given that augmented reality is a fairly new technology, I have to rely on (affordable) developers still feeling their way around the AR coding for native apps.

The good news is I have several media companies interested in partnering with the project, which will give those companies a risk-free way of testing augmented reality and give me, hopefully, a stream of income that I can pour back into the business.

   • Posted by Retha Hill on 02/22 at 04:39 PM

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