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A new ‘app’ appeared recently on the Apple App Store, entitled ‘The Stonehemge Experience‘. The app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and requires iOS 4.2 or later, and currently costs £1.99.
The app consists of a series of narrated videos providing an overview of the layout and construction of the monument, and the solstice alignments. The clever part is that the videos are fully interactive, in that you can use iOS pinch and swipe manoeuvres to move in and out or around the monument as you wish. The app also uses augmented reality technology to be aware of your location, direction and device angle so if you’re actually at Stonehenge and point your device towards the stones it layers into view a high quality computer generated reconstruction of the monument. In one section the viewer is invited to connect a headset and speak, to hear how they would have sounded when (if?) the monument was complete.
All phases of the monument are covered, from the initial bank and ditch henge through to the completed monument. There are a couple of glitches, where lintels seemingly defy gravity whilst awaiting an upright support, but overall the video effects are quite good.
The presentation finishes with a satellite view of the area, with various points of interest marked, from the Amesbury Archer in the Southeast, to Woodhenge and Durrington in the North, and Winterbourne Stoke barrows in the West. Again, the image is fully zoomable and movable, and each of the pins when tapped identifies the location and leads to further video or textual information about the location.
Is the app worth the price? I would guess that if you’re actually visiting the monument, then the augmented reality aspects could be quite useful. If you’ve never visited and only know a little about Stonehenge, then it provides a very good interactive ‘armchair view’. If you’re at all familiar with the Stonehenge area, then you still might learn something from this app. If you’re very familiar, then it might be a ‘watch once and forget’ app that sits on your device gathering dust. As the saying goes, “you pays your money and takes your choice…”