This Fall Hoverlay became a part of 2018 Innovate Durham, a 12-weeks program created by The City of Durham and Durham County, launched to test out innovative solutions to local challenges. The main objective was to create and enable location-based AR experience that will provide information to citizens about development of two city projects, the still-under-construction main library branch and the Taurus monument in the downtown Durham.

After a series of meetings and interviews with the city officials we were able to develop a story narrative for creating AR experiences at each location. The result of these conversations generated the experience map that answered critical questions related to the AR experience: user entry to the AR experience, user engagement during the AR experience, and exit or desirable user actions taken after.

Some of the stated goals for the city officials were: increase citizens’ engagement at locations of new developments while providing relevant content, make the citizens better informed about current project status, historical facts, and benefits of new developments.

The Durham City Library AR Display

Getting the community to understand the value of the new library building was one of the most important goals for the city officials. AR provides a great ability to utilize content in a new way to tell the story about new city library benefits, its history, and opportunities it will create for all citizens of Durham.

A hologram of the city official was recorded using a green screen and placed on the Library’s AR channel on Hoverlay app. The hologram welcomes the citizens at the Library location and invites them to turn around and experience 6 historical photos placed around them. Pointing the Hoverlay camera to each photo activates an audio narrative about the history behind the photo and the Durham library, providing historical context and significance.

Below is a descriptive visual storyboard created to define AR experience at the new library location.

Watch the video of the Durham Library AR presentation taken at the location of the future library building:

The Taurus Monument AR Display at the new Administrative Building

The development for the Durham Administrative Building was inspired from the history of the site and its surroundings. The Hotel Malbourne was an iconic landmark during the 1900s that occupied the current site of the old courthouse. The initial proposed name for the hotel was “Taurus” but was rejected by the town matrons. The concept for a new monument placed in front of the building draws a natural association between Durham’s “Bull City” history and the site’s prior life cycle of the Hotel Malbourne via the building’s proposed original name “Taurus”.

The artist story behind the Taurus art monument is told by a hologram placed right at the location of the monument. The hologram welcomes citizens to the site and tells them historical and artistic meanings of the monument and invites them to get more information by clicking on calls to action models. Instead of just reading the text on the monument plaque this AR experience provides users (citizens) more context and engagement.

Watch the video recorded at the location of the Taurus monument in the downtown Durham.

Lessons Learned – Augmenting the City of Durham

Innovate Durham program concluded on December 4th when the six participating startups presented at a Demo Day held at Durham’s Hayti Heritage Center. Hoverly was presented by its CEO and Co-founder Nicolas Robbe who demonstrated use of augmented reality content at two city landmarks.

The conclusion pointed that modern cities start to embrace augmented reality as a new communication vehicle optimized for space and location, with content that matters in context of the location. Unlike social media, AR gives the city a new way to control the narrative and deliver it at a relevant location. The citizens are better informed how and where their tax money is spent. For the city officials augmented reality creates an opportunity to be more personal and direct in more pertinent and relevant communication with the citizens.

“Change doesn’t happen linearly, but exponentially,” said Eric Marsh, a strategic initiatives analyst for the county who helped run the program. “We see the quality, quantity, and diversity just increasing. We reap benefits on both sides. The companies get a proof of concept with someone respectable while getting real insight from real-world players, and the local governments benefit from the latest technology to solve problems.”

Hoverlay is a new way to distribute and share digital content, social and professional profiles, video and images, by simply placing it into the world. Using the Hoverlay camera, anyone can find, interact, and collect content using augmented reality. Read more at or follow Hoverlay on Twitter at @hoverlayAR