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AR Revives Berlin Wall, 30 Years after its Fall

AR Revives Berlin Wall, 30 Years after its Fall

Tuesday, 12 November, 2019 - 07:30
East and West German citizens celebrate as they climb the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate after the opening of the East German border was announced in Berlin, November 9, 1989. (Reuters)

For 28 years, the Berlin Wall divided the German capital in two, before eventually falling 30 years ago. Although few traces of the wall remain in many parts of the capital, a line of stones is still visible in some streets to revealing its former path.

The memories of the Berlin Wall are still alive at some historical sites, such as the Checkpoint Charlie and the Bernauer Strasse, which are considered some of the most attractive tourist attractions in the German capital.

Today, some techniques such as "virtual reality" (VR) and "augmented reality" (AR) are being made available for those seeking to immerse themselves in history and relive the past.

German programmer Peter Kolski has developed an app called "MauAr" to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the wall's fall.

The smartphone app uses the AR to educate users more deeply about historical events. If the user approaches the previous path of the wall, he would see its original shape in that area on his smartphone before its demolition.

The app allows users to discover a distance of more than 160 kilometers of the wall, and tells them its story by two fictional characters: Andreas of East Berlin and Johanna of the West, who express their views on the construction of the wall and its ongoing expansion.

Among the scenes that could be watched on the app are the tanks of the Soviet Union facing the tanks of western allies on both sides of the wall in one of many hostile events that occurred at the time.

The app is available for iPhones and iPads.

The events narrated by MauAr peak in the fall of 1989, as it allows the users themselves to witness the fall of the wall in five different areas of Berlin, including Brandenburg Gate, Kurfürstendamm avenue, and the Alexanderplatz square.

The MauAr app can be used at home to learn about the construction of the wall.

The construction steps can be reviewed in the various streets of Berlin and in different stages, along with the points of guard and the observation towers. The app features many pictures and texts supplied by the "Berlin Wall Foundation", which gives more information on this important stage of the city's history.

Visitors of Berlin can go back in time at the Checkpoint Charlie with VR technology as well.

The TimeRide firm offers a virtual journey through the old divided Berlin. After watching a short video that gives an introduction to this era when the wall was still dividing the city in two, the tourist can choose to listen to one of three "modern witnesses" accompanying him during the tour and talking about their personal experience during that period.

The virtual journey starts at Checkpoint Charlie. By wearing virtual reality glasses, the tourist can take a virtual tour in the bus on Friedrichstrasse Street along the old border checkpoint, then the observation points through the Gendarmenmarkt square, which is still in ruins after its destruction during World War II.

When TimeRide launched about two months ago, Jonas Rothe, founder and chairman of the company, explained that its aim was to introduce historical knowledge with an emotional touch. Thanks to VR technologies, Rothe can get closer to his childhood dream of time travel.

TimeRide also offers virtual tours in other historic cities such as Cologne and Dresden, and recently launched a tour in Munich, where it is now possible to take a trip through 7,000 years of Bavaria's history.

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