The First Augmented Reality Presidential Memorial

Ben Lee

Ben Lee

CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots

Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.

When most people think, “Presidential Monuments,” several classic images come to mind: The Lincoln Memorial, our nation’s history, that scene from Forest Gump where Forest meets Jenny at The Washington Monument (maybe that’s just me). Whatever you think of, get ready to add an unlikely candidate to the list: Augmented Reality.

That’s right—designers of the future monument to commemorate President Eisenhower are planning on having the monument include an augmented reality experience. Developers are currently working on a mobile app which would allow visitors the opportunity to use augmented reality to superimpose stories and images over the monument, detailing Eisenhower’s life as a president and a WWII general. While most monuments rely of boring and old-fashioned “words carved into marble,” the Eisenhower monument plans to be completely virtual (except for the actual monument, of course).

Despite stating the obvious, deputy executive director for the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, Victoria Tigwell said, “We will be the first of the presidential memorials to have this on-site learning opportunity.”

The development team has gathered audio recordings from Eisenhower’s speeches so virtual stories can be told in Eisenhower’s actual voice. Topics plan to include Dwight on D-Day, Cold War History, as well as much of Ike’s personality.

As with every project that doesn’t follow the floor plan of the one before it, there is some controversy. Eisenhower’s family said they desired the monument to be clean and simple, reflecting Ike’s modesty. MichaelBarton, of the media design firm Local Projects LLC (the people who did the 9/11 memorial) responded to the family by saying, “I’m all for simplicity and modesty but I don’t feel like avoiding technology is the right strategy. Eisenhower himself engaged in the most cutting edge technology of his day.”

The memorial is set to open in 2015, and the designers hope its use of augmented reality development will make it more appealing to the “tech-savvy generation.”