California State Parks launches virtual reality app for Jack London, 8 other parks
A new free mobile app is bringing augmented reality to visitors of Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen and eight other state parks in California.
State Parks’ “Virtual Adventurer” app, introduced Tuesday, uses holograms, 3D images and reconstructions to offer visitors a new way to experience the parks.
“We’re excited to launch the Virtual Adventurer app that further provides opportunities for Californians to access the cultural, historic and natural resources found across our beautiful state,” California State Parks Director Armando Quintero said in a statement.
The app offers users an array of exploration options. They can walk through Coyote Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with Maria Jacinta Bastida, an Afro Latina woman who accompanied the Juan Bautista De Anza expedition, or see Chinatown reemerge from the sagebrush at Bodie State Historic Park in Bridgeport.
Guests can use the app to explore Jack London’s 29 miles of trails and historic buildings, including the cottage where the author and his wife, Charmain, lived.
Jack London park is one of only three parks in Northern California to be featured on the app, so far.
“A lot of people hike the trail and might visit the cottage, but sometimes they don’t have a good sense of the whole park. This mobile app helps them get a better sense of what the park has to offer,” said Leslie Hartzell, preservation officer and tribal liaison for California State Parks.
Interpretive panels at a historic park “can litter the site and take away from the ambiance.” she said. Using augmented reality, people can see what a site would have looked like in the past.
“We have so much that Jack London wrote,” Hartzell said. With the app “you can really bring his stories to life in a way that an interpretive panel can’t.”
The nonprofit Jack London Park Partners, which operates the site, was instrumental in State Parks’ selection of the site for the new app, Hartzell said.
Other parks slated for addition to the app include Salt Point State Park and Fort Ross State Historic Park, known by the Kashia Pomo people as Metini.
Those projects will highlight the life stories of Indigenous people, explore the Pomona shipwreck, and recreate a loading shoot from the ranching era at Fort Ross, and an Alaskan native village circa 1812-1829.
The app will feature Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant accessible PDFs, audio descriptions, audio captioning, high-contrast colors, as well as dyslexic font.
The app can be downloaded at pdne.ws/3Cm7BBM.