AR Experience East of the Rockies Tells the Story of Canada’s Japanese Internment Camps

Developers have only just begun exploring what augmented reality (AR) technology can achieve on mobile devices. Today,  Canadian author Joy Kogawa in collaboration with Toronto-based design and experience agency Jam3 and The National Film Board of Canada have unveiled the interactive narrative East of the Rockies.

East of the Rockies

East of the Rockies’ story is about Canada’s Japanese internment camps during WWII. Taking inspiration from Kogawa’s novels Obasan and Itsuka, which chronicle the persecution of Japanese citizens in Canada during the war, the AR experience follows 17-year-old Yuki as her family adjusts to life in a camp.

“I’m grateful that this little story in Canada is not going to be lost,” says Joy Kogawa in a statement. “There are so many stories that are lost, that ought not to be, so it’s a wonderful thing to see it happening here in this way. I think it’s very exciting to be at the beginning of this kind of thing, how lucky is that?”

Using AR to scan a suitable surface, viewers will be able to see inside and explore the Slocan Internment Camp, interacting with Yuki’s story by tapping and zooming in on key elements. When they do viewers will activate a scripted narrative spoken by Yuki – voiced by Kogawa’s granddaughter Anne Canute – describing different aspects of the camp.

East of the Rockies

“By using immersive storytelling in East of the Rockies, we can educate a brand new audience with a learn-through-gameplay experience. adds Dirk Van Ginkel, Creative Director at Jam3. “In working with Joy, we’ve been able to show what life was like when the Canadian government exiled the Japanese community. Sometimes to move forward as a society, we must look back and acknowledge past injustices – we hope that this is a platform for reflection.”

Additionally, students have the opportunity to take a more in-depth look at East of the Rockies with an NFB Education kit.

Featuring which can take anywhere from 50-80 minutes to view, East of the Rockies is currently free and available through the Apple App Store, exclusive to iPhone and iPad running iOS 12, including iPhone 6s and newer, iPad (5th generation) and all iPad Pro models. For the latest AR applications, keep reading VRFocus.