Map of augmented reality tour stops around historical site

Heart Mountain AR Tour Receives Best Activities Award by Wyoming State Historical Society

The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation is proud to announce that its augmented reality tour, designed by Jonathan Amakawa, has won the best activities award from the Wyoming State Historical Society. The award will be presented during the Wyoming State Historical Society’s annual meeting the weekend of September 9, 2022.

Jonathan Amakawa, head of STUDIO Amakawa and an associate professor of communications media at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts created the tour using archival audio from Heart Mountain incarcerees, new interviews, and historical photographs to digitally recreate life at the camp where almost 14,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. The AR tour was supported by a grant from the Aratani Foundation of Southern California and is the model for potential tours at other Japanese American confinement sites.

The tour features 16 different stops around the grounds of the historic site and inside the original 1942 Heart Mountain barrack. Each stop is marked with an interactive sign visitors can scan with their smartphone to trigger real-time 3D animations of reenacted scenes from the history of the Heart Mountain camp.

“The Augmented Reality tour that Jon has created is a vivid example of how gaming technology has applications beyond entertainment,” says Heart Mountain’s Interim Executive Director Aura Sunada Newlin. “The app brings our historic site to life in new ways, and enables us to engage new audiences.”

Scenes that can be seen on the tour include a dance in the barracks, a practice of the Heart Mountain Eagles football team, and the chance meeting of two Boy Scouts, Norman Mineta and Alan Simpson, at the camp in 1943. Visitors are welcomed to the tour by the animated avatar of Takashi Hoshizaki, a former incarceree of the camp and Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation board member.