CITRIS Seed Award sparks VR app for California parks

Bodie State Historic Park, with a ghost town of wooden buildings surrounded by rolling hills.

According to a recent press release from the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the public can now download a mobile app and travel through Coyote Canyon in today’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with Maria Jacinta Bastida, an Afro-Latina woman traveling with the Juan Bautista De Anza expedition, or see Chinatown re-emerge from the sagebrush at Bodie State Historic Park.

The new Virtual Adventurer augmented reality application, which currently offers unique journeys through nine participating state parks, was inspired by the Bodie 3D Project, recipient of a 2016 CITRIS Seed Award to UC Merced’s Nicola Lercari and Marcelo Kallmann and UC Santa Cruz’s Arnav Jhala.

“You can go back in time to see changes in the natural landscapes and biodiversity of plants and animals and witness how different cultures have managed these resources. The app also supports and enhances the department’s Reexamining Our Past Initiative by developing content for parks that tells a more complete, accurate and inclusive history of people and places,” said Leslie Hartzell, California State Parks cultural resources division chief.