Dome Explorer

An Interactive Augmented-Reality Tablet Application to Enhance Visitors' Experiences in the Great Hall of the National Academy of Sciences:

IRC researchers have developed an iPad application to augment the experience of visitors to the Great Hall of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Our goal was to create a navigable, geographically aware, panoramic display of the dome and its elaborate painted mural by Hildreth Meière, with hotlinks embedded into the incorporated images. The interface is intuitive and simple to use without instruction.

Users hold up the iPad, aligning it with various icons and images on the dome. The application displays a corresponding picture of the dome featuring the icons highlighted with hotspots that users can touch to learn more about what each icon means. A text box with an image pops up and allows the user to read about the icon and see the dome in high-resolution detail. The application is available in Apple’s App Store and has a corresponding website.

This effort was the first in a multiphase project that provided NAS with a new channel for interacting with the public about important subjects in science, an effort they are pursuing with a renewed sense of urgency, as in recent years it has become apparent that scientists cannot take for granted that their recommendations will have the kind of influence on public policy they may have had a generation ago. NAS is concerned that the public and the media are exposed to, and sometimes promote, inaccurate or misleading information about critical matters of science, including those in high-impact areas like the development and administering of vaccines. In collaboration with the Office of Cultural Programs at NAS, the IRC has an exciting opportunity to think through how to engage the public on key points of science in ways that could create deeper dialog and, hopefully, trust.

Production Notes

Project Directors: Lee Boot and JD Talasek
Collaborators: Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences
Content Writers: Joyce Bedi, Thomas Burnett, Melinda Hough, Alana Quinn, Kevin Padian, JD Talasek, Joseph N. Taterwicz, Rick Welch
Programmers: Neal McDonald, Wallace Brown, Mark Jarzynski
Photographer: Dan Bailey
Graphic Designers: Abbey Salvo and Chris Mahaffy