Saturday, July 11, 2020

Augmented reality for female empowerment


Just a couple of weeks ago, women were the main stars of the Emmy Awards, this year captured by the female roles of 'The Handmaid's Tale', 'Big Little Lies' or 'San Junipero' (episode of 'Black Mirror'). They occupied the covers and the headlines, and the press declared the advance in favor of equality that this wave represents leading roles. Show women who suffer, submissive women who rebel, women who seek to be free and independent, and become stronger.

But on the other side of the screen, the pay gap, is still there, even in Hollywood. And although women occupy the television space, many other spaces must still be conquered. For example, the street, sidewalks, or parks, literally. Because if you take a walk around your city and start counting the number of sculptures, plaques, or avenues dedicated to famous women, you may soon end up doing the math. But why do we want augmented reality if it is not to improve reality?

Years ago, the SPARK Movement detected this 'void' about the presence of women in public spaces. And as we count then, he used geolocation to try to compensate for it. She did it with an app that vibrates when you approach a relevant point in the biography of a famous woman. Key women for art, science, literature, or history. Now technology goes one step further.

The augmented reality is within our reach and can be used for much more than banal entertainment. From educational initiatives to bring children closer to landscapes or animals that they can hardly see in their environment, to proposals such as The Whole Story. Everything also happens through an app. An application that locates, thanks to augmented reality and GPS location, sculptures of famous women where none has been represented. Sort of like a 'Pokemon GO' of female empowerment and parity

They take the parks

It all started with Maria Tallchief, the first Native American to become a 'first dancer'. Tina Brown, promoter of this project, placed the virtual statue of the dancer in Dante Park. And after that, the platform focused on Central Park, the famous New York park. In it, there are more than 20 male sculptures and only two dedicated to women . Who are the females with such privilege? Well, neither more nor less than Julieta, from 'Romeo y Julieta' and Alicia, from 'Alice in Wonderland'. Relevant? Without a doubt, they are fundamental characters in literature and the collective imagination. Real? That already is another story ...

But to solve such disproportion, the Whole Story app represents women like Nina Simone, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart ... Or also the suffragette Susan B. Anthony, Florence Nightingale, pioneer of nursing, or Harriet Tubman, an advocate of human rights. African Americans. The latter is virtually located thanks to the app on Mount Rushmore. Yes, along with the faces of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. Making them appear there with augmented reality is much cheaper and faster than carving 18 meters of stone for each one of them. And perhaps it does not have as much visibility as a real work of that magnitude, but it starts with something.

Do you like the idea? You can now download it ( here for iOS and here for Android ) and participate, if you want, with your creation. The Whole Story is open-source, so any developer or historian with minimal knowledge can dare to create the sculpture of a famous woman. And help, by pressing a button, so that she also has her space. For now, limited to locations in the United States, but it is planned to open the possibility to other parts of the world in 2018.

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