Back in the mid 1990s, designer Michael McGar worked on a big CD-ROM project called “Alamo: Victory or Death.” Especially for its time, it was ambitious — it contained so much material it required two discs, included work from Texas celebrities including Sissy Spacek and Dan Rather, and includes a 3-D model of the Alamo itself.
Now, McGar and longtime education technology leader Chipp Walters want to revisit the famous 1836 battle and the history around the San Antonio site with “Alamo Reality,” a virtual/augmented reality project they hope to release by March 1, 2018 for iOS and Android devices.
The two have formed a 10-person Austin company called Imagine Virtua and say they’ve received a seven-figure investment from San Antonio-based Remati Investments. The idea was inspired last year by the success of “Pokemon Go,” a mobile app that generated fresh interest in augmented reality technology.
Said McGar, “When I saw ‘Pokemon Go,’ I thought this is what I’m looking for. You have the ability to stand on the grounds of the Alamo and instead of some little monster popping up, Davy Crockett pops up and tells you what happened to him on that spot.”
McGar spoke to 512tech about “Alamo Reality” and his new company.
WHAT THEY DO: Imagine Virtua expects to create an app experience that will bring the Alamo plaza to life with historical information and an animated re-creation of the 1836 battle. The company plans to offer the app for free, but will have options for in-app purchases of bonus content and real-life merchandise such as cards and a reality board that would take further advantage of the AR technology. The company plans to rebuild material and record new footage and to use updated historical information, not re-use material from the 1995 CD-ROM project. “It’s an amazing story that has not been told well even in the movies,” McGar said. “We feel like our ability to tell this story with AR is going to expand the ability of the Alamo to tell their story.” The app’s release would coincide with the tricentennial celebration of San Antonio next year.
WHO THEY ARE: McGar, who has a background in multimedia and film production, is president of the company and Walters is chief executive. The 10-person company also includes a historian, writers, 3-D artists and project managers. “The usual suspects you have to produce these things,” McGar said.
INVESTMENT: An unspecified “seven-figure” investment from Remati. The company is also seeking educational sponsors in order to provide materials to students in Texas schools.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Though the company doesn’t yet have any agreements with the Texas General Land Office, the organization in charge of the San Antonio site, McGar said it hopes to make that happen and to have “Alamo Reality” incorporated into the Alamo itself.
News on Open Source is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of 512tech.com comes with an American-Statesman digital subscription, which also includes myStatesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe at statesman.com/subscribe.