'A year at the White House’: Augmented reality app gives dollar-sized virtual tour

© whitehouse.gov
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue restricts public access, but in augmented reality, the executive mansion is free to visit or even stay a whole year. The White House’s new smartphone app uses interactive technology and a dollar bill to “educate and inspire.”

“1600,” a free Android and iOS app released Thursday, offers a three-dimensional tour around the White House. Using augmented reality technology, or AR, the app works by taking hold of a smartphone’s camera. The magic begins when the lens is positioned over any dollar bill, which becomes a canvas for a pop-up picture of what narrator White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest calls “the People’s House.”

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“From the Easter Egg Roll to a State Arrival Ceremony,” the user gets to see special outdoor events at the presidential palace, Earnest wrote on the White House blog. One can view the four seasons of spectacles from a bird’s eye view, or worm’s eye view, if that’s where the camera is moved.

The app, developed by London-based Nexus Productions in coordination with the White House Historical Association, is designed to “inspire Americans to learn all about what the People’s House stands for,” Earnest wrote. Nexus did the work for free, according to Gizmodo.

It’s not completely ironic that the app requires a $1 bill, famously picturing the first US president George Washington, to activate the virtual White House. While Washington is the only commander-in-chief to never live in the White House, he did choose its ultimate location and approved its neoclassical design.