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Communications of the ACM


Preserving the Past with Immersive Technologies

demonstration of the Skin & Bones app on a tablet computer

The Skin & Bones augmented reality app brings to life the skeletons in the Bone Hall of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

Credit: YouTube

Inside the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., is an exhibit called the Tower of Faces (, which uses augmented reality to tell stories behind some of the 1,041 photos of people from the small town of Eishishok, in what is now Lithuania. The tower soars 50 feet high across 30 rows, displaying the faces of the town's inhabitants, nearly 4,000 of whom were massacred when the Germans invaded during World War II.

When visitors walk into the tower, they can pick up one of several iPads and hold it up to an image on the wall, which will then play a video that transports them into the town. The video first appears in color and then fades to black and white, while a narrator reads a brief script about the person. One tells the story of Szeina, an actress who was fluent in five languages and owned a hotel on the market square the Nazis took over to use as their local headquarters.


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