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Google Cardboard, Cultural Heritage and the Arabian Peninsula: Lessons Learned from the 19th Century Stereoscope
Google Cardboard is a "virtual reality" platform that uses a relatively low-cost cardboard or plastic viewer in conjunction with a mobile phone device to create 360-degree immersive experiences. Since its introduction in 2014, content providers using Google Cardboard have produced educational experiences about our world's heritage that enhance informal and formal learning experiences. While it is new technology, it can be argued that conceptually, this innovation has strong ties to the
With the dramatic cultural and economic shifts that have occurred within the Arabian Peninsula since the 1950s and 1960s due to the introduction of oil wealth into the local economies, an emphasis on the preservation and documentation of past material culture has become a priority. In the United Arab Emirates, one site that has captured the imagination of both UAE nationals and tourists is Al Jazeera Al Hamra, a former coastal village in Ras Al Khaimah that was abandoned at the time of the formation of the country in the late 1960s and 1970s. It is considered one of the last traditional fishing and pearl diving villages in the nation.
Using Jazeera Al Hamra VR, a Google Cardboard app developed by this author as a case study, which presents a virtual tour of the architecture of Al Jazeera Al Hamra as documented between 2009 and 2014 with 360-degree panoramic images, this paper will attempt to address such questions as: What is the relationship between Google Cardboard and the 19th century stereoscope? How can one use these innovations of the past to inform contemporary best practices in cultural heritage preservation and dissemination using Google Cardboard? How can this technology be used in formal and informal learning environments? The paper will conclude with practical, useful recommendations to inform current and future initiatives in developing Google Cardboard projects for the preservation and dissemination of the Arabian Peninsula's cultural heritage.
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