Journey through city history with augmented reality

Smart phones
Smart phones abound and mobile data is affordable to most. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

We live our lives in patterns such that even while born and bred in cities and towns, there are places that remain undiscovered and unknown.

Our daily lives circumscribe us to set paths. As we go about our day-to-day activities we are often consumed by the hustle and grind with our immediate environment, which is nothing but a blur and white noise. We miss out on the richness of our surroundings as they are consumed by rapid urbanisation.

I chanced on two social media platforms, one on Twitter and the other on Facebook that post audio visual content from Kenya’s rich history. My week is never complete without a good hour or two spent flicking through the content, immersing myself in what is obviously not readily available in history books or current programming.

The persons running these accounts are clearly passionate and also have some level of access to archives that result in the consistent output of engaging content.

The number of followers to these accounts also affirms that there are many others like me, who delight in the content.


Knowing of the rapid success that is Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game that has people, all 147 million monthly active users, both young and old across the globe traversing their neighbourhoods in search of a variety of creatures in a bid to capture and train them, I imagine a similar experience for our cities albeit with a slightly different spin.

Making use of readily available technology we can infuse the daily commutes of millions of residents with more meaning lives by building a platform that allows for the consumption of our cities’ histories through images, audio, prose and video.

Smart phones abound and mobile data is affordable to most.

City fathers and the Tourism Board can open up the treasure trove of content and even step in to offer free connectivity to reduce service friction on streaming content.

I imagine walking down Nairobi’s Kenyatta Avenue and my phone giving a slight buzz that alerts me to the availability of content that cuts across people, places and things.

Occurrences, stories and moments that have happened since 1950 when Nairobi was declared a city, layered over the current ebb and flow in an elegant timeline ready for me to take in.

I am sure many will sign up and have discovery as part of their routine. Any takers?