Tweak Central

This week there were some interesting hurdles with buildAR, but our efforts have been relentless. BuildAR has been undergoing updates and maintenance periods but we have taken every hurdle with grace. Any information or image that was lost with the update was quickly added again.

This week has been all about adjusting images positions, sizes and locations to ensure that our project works and looks the way we want it to. We hope to do more on site testing to see how everything works in real time at the locations. In addition we are making final revisions to our blog posts to make the history of our buildings appealing and interesting.

We have been very determined to get this project working the way we had in mind. Our project presentation is still a work in progress.

Testing Week

This week we attempted to test some of the LoDo Destinations in real time. We were able to view a couple of the buildings augmented through our smartphones and see where we need to do some tweaking (resizing of images, image placement, etc.) We did run into a hurdle while doing this, but everything is up and running again! We will continue to test the locations over the weekend as well as next week.

Additionally, we are now in the process of creating our presentation of our learning experience with augmented reality and its relevance to history. We aim to show how history through augmented reality can entice the public, allowing for history to be preserved and valued.

Good week

We really made breakthroughs using BuildAR this week. It finally feels like we’re controlling it, not the other way around. Everyone made progress on their pages and it felt good to start putting all our research into the form that will be read by our target audience. We’re gathering tons of great FYIs and DYKs? After out post last week, a decent of Soapy Smith himself, Jeff Smith, contacted us to give us more deets on his famous (re: infamous) relative. I’ve read his book on Soapy for another class and highly recommend it. t

We’re going to test our work next week and see how it looks in practice. We’re getting down to the do-or-die, less than a month to go until we unveil or project to Sophie at Historic Denver… and the world! (insert nefarious laugh here. Muwahahahaha!!!)


Union Station

A key entrance to Denver, tunnels were dug to allow famous (or infamous) people to sneak into town. These tunnels ran to hotels, Turkish baths and other places (many of ill-repute.) Before you go searching, the tunnels have long been filled in.

A restaurant inside the station used to feature five-star food including a t-bone for $1.65 or New York steak for $2.25. Sorry, vegetarians, salad was not a main dish. The best you could hope for was scallops or shrimp for $1.25. However, fruit pie was only $.15 so eat dessert for dinner!

Noted bunco artist “Soapy” Smith started his criminal empire on a Union Station corner using the scam of money-wrapped soap bars. A shill would pick pre-arranged piece of soap from a barrel proving one could “win” a $100 for a $.10 bar. No one ever won.

Image President William Taft at Union Station – Denver Public Library – Western History Collection

No stranger to politics, the station has hosted many dignitaries over the years. Presidents such as Roosevelt, Truman and Taft have all stomped in Denver during their campaigns. Sometimes, candidates moved directly to a platform set up in front of the station. After speaking to the crowd, they’d return to the train and leave. This was the only way for voters to see and hear a politician talk (before TV.)


The-once present MIZPAH arch was designed by an East High student. Genesis 31:49 – “May the Lord keep watch over between you and me when we are out of each other’s sight.” Mizpah necklaces were a fad of the 80’s.

Research week


This was a great week, if you’re a research junkie like I am. The group skipped class to do research at the Denver Library’s Western History Collection. If you’ve never been to this unique floor of the downtown branch, you should! It’s amazing! It’s all done in wood to imply a mine shaft, the sort that made Colorado what it is. Inside is one of the world’s largest collection of western literature. There are old city planning ledgers, archives for the Rocky Mountain News and countless books on Denver’s cultural history.

For the first trip, we really just got the lay of the land, learning how to find things on a deeper level than just by name. We spent about three hours total and came away having just scratched the surface. I returned again today (Thursday) after class. Both times, Bruce, a Western History research librarian who happens to specialize in Denver’s buildings, was there. He has a special interest in our goal as he’s on the Historic Denver’s board of trustees. He showed me why the Denver City Railway CO Building (pictured above) was a devil to research. It’s had several names and is often mistaken for the Denver City Cable Railway Building and Denver City Tramway Building. We also discovered how often the addresses for the places we’re researching have changed. A book Bruce showed us has all the original names for the Lodo streets. Often, the front was moved from one street to another, making for two addresses in the databases.   

One cool thing today came in the form of a journal from 1902. Called the Journal of American Progress, they featured an entire issue to Denver. They keep it in a hermetically sealed room, free of climate and temperature changes. Looking through it was like looking back in time. I found a couple great articles, one on the Columbia Hotel and one the Saddlery. I had to take photos of the articles because the magazine is too delicate to run through any sort of copier/scanner (without incurring a large fee.) Speaking of the Columbia, did you know that there were two fires there, seven years apart? Talk about seven being an unlucky number!

We also finally got to play around with the BuildAR program. It doesn’t offer the options the other similar programs due, so we’re having to scale back some of our ideas, but we’re getting the hang of it. Our goal is to each have one of our buildings ready for demo on Monday. I laid the groundwork for all seven, but am still digging to find the human elements to put in my historic body.

Like I said, it’s been busy, but great, and we really feel like the ball got rolling this week.


LodoDenver Team  


Monday is our library day, i think that we will be caught up and have a solid handle on things after that. I also have been looking at the buildAR website. It is interesting and looks like it will be easy to use. I have been continuing my research on my selected 6 historic spots. There is a lot of information and pictures because my buildings and businesses are still there and in business.  

LoDo History Full Proposal

After touring the Lower Downtown area with Historic Denver’s Sophie Bieluczyk, we have narrowed down two opportunities to improve their venue with augmented reality. The first is a proposed guided walking tour of LoDo Historic Denver is planning on for the summer months. The second is an unguided walking tour that tailors to the visitor or new citizen of the Denver Metro area.

In our discussion, both opportunities will use many of the same concepts, such as visual timelines and historic text, but the content will be as different as the audience. The guided tour will be based on Historic Denver’s previously published guidebook and will focus on the dates and historic information they consider to be important about each location, while the unguided tour will be more freeform, allowing for increased information, visuals and tools.

Guided Tours

  • For an audience that is visiting the city and is on an official tour with a guide. These concepts will complement that experience, rather than be stand-alone apps.

Concept 1 Visual Timeline

  • This timeline will be more image based, emphasizing change over the past decades. A tour guide will highlight important milestones of the area or building while the visuals add to the historic value.

Concept 2 Image with Text and Link

  • This concept would focus on sites that haven’t changed as much, therefore, wouldn’t benefit from a timeline-based sequence of change. The guide on the tour will go over main points for these sites and point out their importance while the app adds “fun facts” here and there to add to the experience.

Concept 3 Audio and Video

  • If and when we discover some audio and video clips we wish to incorporate, these will be featured in this style of app. Again, complementing the experience of the tour, these clips will add speeches or music from the era. For these types of media, we will pull from YouTube, SoundCloud and the Denver Public Library.

Unguided Tours

  • For the audience that visits the city without any fixed tours or for those who already live here that don’t know the history of the area they live.

Concept 1 Visual Timeline

  • This timeline for the unguided tour would be more image based, less information based. Some tidbits of interesting facts would pop up, but not an entire textbook of history. It functions more as a slideshow, a quick look into the past for casual observers on the street.

Concept 2 Picture links to text/video/audio

  • These images will pop up with a caption and a link to more information. Depending on the amount of and relevance of the topic, a different link or several links could be connected to each picture such as: audio recordings of music, video documentary, text with dates and important events.

Concept 3 Scavenger Hunt

  • This template is more of a game-based app. Each image or building you find gives you a badge and a collection that ultimately leads to a badge for collecting all the buildings in LoDo. This is more game based, not as much room for teaching and giving all the information we have to give since it’s more light-hearted. You can link to Twitter and Facebook with this game and maybe “compete” with friends to collect all the buildings.

In conclusion, our group wants to ultimately enhance a LoDo visitor’s experience. Our biggest challenge in the guided tour, is finding the best pictures to use for each local that matches with their text. Within the unguided tour, the biggest hurdle is making sure the app is fun enough that word spreads.

There is little to no marketing/promotion available from Historic Denver to let people outside their tours know the app exists. So, it’ll be paramount that the app itself helps in that job. We’ll do this be enhancing the visitor experience through engaging texts, rare archived visuals and interactive components.   We’ll rely on people’s tacit knowledge that LoDo is a historic district and using GPS push technology draw them to explicit knowledge of the buildings and events that made it a part of history.

There is nothing like this current at play in LoDo, so we have a wide-open field to create in. It should be an exciting project.

For a visual representation of the different concepts, click here > LoDo Proposal


Are these genres ill-suited to sustain other modes of visitor engagement?

The primary genre of this venue is visual in the form physical signage in the form of street signs, building signs and historical markers. While the street signs and building signs work well for guiding a visitor to their location, they do not do much to educate and/or inform the visitor to the history of the building. Historical markers can do that, but as small, sporadic and hard to see, especially if destination orientated.

What other modes of engagement would be desirable for the venue?

Augmented reality can make use of all three of the genres by adding another layer of information, being it picture, text or video. It would allow for even destination-based visitors to access historical knowledge while on the move.



The plaques don’t call attention to themselves, not attracting new audiences to the venue. The current audience is sustained by the newsletter – physical or electronic – but the actual buildings themselves don’t draw people to their historical significance in the formation of Denver.

The website available is disorganized. It’s decent, but doesn’t highlight their social media or their access to a plethora of information. The link to the story trek, one of the greater influences in their goal of spreading history, isn’t easy to do find and the separate link itself is not visually appealing or engaging. The signage for the trek is scattered as well, hard to figure out it’s purpose in a greater scheme.



Audience Engagement

Each of the genres currently present in the physical location are signage for navigation and posters/sandwich boards serving as advertisement for restaurants/boutiques and in some cases events. These are designed to facilitate navigation, whether for consumers to find their way around the area, or find their way into businesses. There are also plaques on some of the buildings that are designed to inform people of the history of the buildings. But not only are these plaques hard to find but they are also not affiliated with historic Denver. They’re designed to facilitate knowledge but are ineffective.