Abstract by Andrew Hirschi
Family History in virtual reality
Our subject is the Virtual Reality Family Tree, the newest project at the Family History Technology Lab. We are combining the new medium of virtual reality into the genealogical experience to invent new methods of data visualization, innovate data access and reach out to a tech-savvy rising generation.
We use Google’s Daydream and the Unity Development Engine to create immersive virtual spaces. We seek to go beyond the two-dimensional interfaces of names and dates commonly associated with historical data, and enliven Family History through the use of three-dimensional, animated interactables. This will revolutionise the way we gather, organise, and process data. Data is beautiful, and when presented in the correct format can capture the imagination. Currently, we are working to allow for the creation of the complete family tree in virtual space, in a lobby-like setting where one will be able to understand the magnitude of genealogical work and come “face to face” with their ancestors.
In the future we hope to expand our horizons to include a whole range of visualizations, including maps, audio and video, and virtual recreations of historical spaces and events.