History of a heritage house is ‘appier’ thanks to UON teams

Date 1.09.2023

Ten millennia of human activity and history at a unique heritage site is available at your fingertips, thanks to University of Northampton (UON).

UON Games students and graduates and their peers in Sports Development and Physical Education and Special Educational Needs and Inclusion* have created an app that brings to life 10,000 years of Chester House Estate.

Chester House Estate – in Irchester, Wellingborough – is a unique part of the world as one of the few places in the UK that shows 10,000 years of human activity.

Presenting this vast swathe of the past and making sure it was accessible – for instance, for people with special educational needs – may seem like a huge task. It was a challenge the UON team readily accepted.

The app includes two augmented reality (AR) trails, one based on the history of Chester House Estate and one on the Roman excavations there. As visitors complete the trails, they unlock items discovered and viewed in AR, such as 3D models of Roman buildings and artefacts.

One of the team is Siobhan Read, a UON Games Art graduate. She talks about what was involved: “The Chester House project was a valuable endeavour in terms of the artistic and workplace experience. A lot of my work, such as the reconstructions of ancient pottery, started out as what we call photogrammetry.

“This is when photos of objects in the real world are scanned into the virtual world and made more 3-dimensional. These needed to be cleaned and retextured, something I had never done before.

“It feels strange having something I worked on published, something anyone can download from an app store. It’s very different from my other games projects. I’m proud of the modelling work I did for the app, and even more so for the work my teammates put in to get it to where it is now. It was a rocky road at times, but we made something we can be truly ‘appy’ with.”

The app can be downloaded for Android phones and on the Apple Store.

This project adds to the recent story about University of Northampton’s range of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) projects and AR and VR teaching and learning support.

*The full list of UON teams involved in this project is:

  • Digital Education
  • Games Art, Games Design, Games Programming
  • Library and Learning Services/Learning Design
  • Special Educational Needs and Inclusion
  • Sports and Physical Education.