Remember the Alamo! Texas militia yelled out this famous battle cry as they battled Mexico’s army for the territory’s independence in honor of a fallen garrison of their comrades who were wiped out on March 6, 1836 trying to defend a fortified former Catholic mission. Roughly 200 men led by James Bowie, Davy Crockett and William Travis stood up against a Mexican force of 5,000 soldiers for 13-days at the Alamo Mission in a defeat that ultimately rallied support for a Texas revolutionary victory.
The Alamo has since become one of the world’s most famous battlefields and hosts more visitors than any other historic site within the State of Texas. According to the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau, more than 2.5 million people per year visit the state park where the Battle of the Alamo took place. Unfortunately for people visiting these hallowed grounds, it can be difficult to visualize what the place was like nearly 200 years ago as the area has really changed as time has gone by.
For decades after its important moment in history, no one thought about preserving the spot. Buildings within the Alamo Mission were repurposed for new uses including an army depot, retail stores and warehouses or demolished while parcels of land within and surrounding it were developed as the city of San Antonio grew up around the location. The site now sits in the midst of the city’s downtown. Essentially the only structure left from the Alamo Mission is its chapel, which has become a museum and is surrounded by some greenspace commemorating the battle that took place there. With these changes over time it can be hard to visualize what this spot looked like back in 1836.
I was excited to discover that this iconic historical site is making an effort to use technology so visitors can step back in time and see what this space looked like during the Battle of the Alamo through an augmented reality app. Augmented reality takes the real world view seen through a phone or tablets camera and superimposes computer-generated imagery and special effects that can be interacted with through an app. My family has had a lot of fun using augmented reality (AR) apps in entertaining ways such as having Jurassic World dinosaurs pop out of a book, pretending to be Marvel super heroes at the park, or going on a Star Wars character scavenger hunt. I have to say it is great to find out AR is being used for an educational purpose at a site as well known as the Alamo. This app looks like a great way to educate people about the Alamo in an entertaining way sure to capture their attention!
Alamo Reality’s Experience Real History™: Alamo Edition is being launched in March 2018 as part of San Antonio’s 300th birthday celebration and in honor of the 182nd anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo. The app is FREE to download for both iOS and Android devices. It enables users to explore fourteen geo-targeted locations on the state park’s grounds where AR features will overlay the historic footprint of the Alamo onto the present-day site. Though the historic battlefield is now located in the center of downtown San Antonio, using the app visitors can look around on a phone or tablet and the area surrounding them will be transformed into what it looked like during the 1836 battle.
“It’s like time travel,” said Michael McGar, CEO of the app’s developer Alamo Reality. “People will be able to hold up a phone or tablet and experience the Alamo from 1836 on the very spot where these pivotal events happened.”
STEP BACK INTO HISTORY
Users of Alamo Reality’s Experience Real History™: Alamo Edition will be able to scan portals located around the site with their mobile device and experience a simulation that makes it seem like they are physically walking back in time. For instance, at a spot where the original building no longer stands, the app will let visitors scan a portal which will simulate entering a replica of the room where James Bowie was killed and witness his last moments on the exact place where it happened. Other experiences include walking around the Alamo courtyard viewing the space as it existed in 1836 and using an augmented reality elevator to rise up into the sky for an overhead view of video battle sequences.
The app will also bring people like Davy Crocket to life in front of you dressed in historically accurate clothing for the time period sharing stories about their experiences during the Battle of the Alamo. Listen to some diverse perspectives about the events that occurred as a variety of people on both sides of the conflict share stories about the battle that occurred here and provide insights about their daily lives during this era. The Alamo’s gift shop will also have some souvenirs that will let visitors continue to enjoy the app when they head back home. Pick up some trading cards that generate 3-D images of cannons used in the Battle of the Alamo or historical figures that were there which can be viewed on the app when scanned.
This AR app is sure to have visitors to the Alamo seeing the place in a new way. For more information about planning a visit head over to thealamo.org and to learn more about Alamo Reality’s app check out alamoreality.com
You also might enjoy reading a Memorial Day feature I wrote. Here’s an excerpt
Situated in a quiet cemetery on the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan stands a monument to America’s “Polar Bear” soldiers who fought the Bolshevik Red Army in the arctic regions of Russia during World War I. A solemn stone polar bear guards the graves of 56 soldiers from Detroit who died in a little known aspect of the Great War. Read More…