Situated Simulations (SitsimLab)

Designing a Mobile Augmented Reality platform
for experimentation with locative storytelling and new genres.

Project leader: Prof. Gunnar Liestøl
Dept. of Media & Communication, University of Oslo, Norway


In a situated simulation (sitsim) two elements are linked: the user's visual perception of the real physical environment, and the user's visual perception of a 3D graphics environment as displayed on a hand-held screen. The relative congruity between the real and the virtual perspectives is obtained by letting the camera position and movement in the 3D environment be conditioned by the positioning and orientation hardware. As the user moves in real space the perspective inside the 3D graphic environment changes accordingly. A situated simulation requires a smartphone/tablet with good graphics capabilities, GPS-positioning, accelerometer, electronic compass and gyroscope.

A sitsim is closely related to mixed and augmented reality. While mixed reality is characterized by different combinations of virtual and real representations along the reality-virtuality continuum, a situated simulation is a full screen solution where there is a distinct (although minor) difference between the artificial (audio–visual) perspective via the device and the real perspective of the user. This approach has also been named 'Indirect Augmented Reality'.

Research in SitsimLab follows three parallel and interacting strands: 1) practical development and experimentation with narrative and rhetorical innovation in location–based media; 2) exploration of a humanities informed method for digital media design founded on rhetoric as an architectonic productive art; and 3) theoretical understanding of the relationship between the two (former levels). Theory is also central in the method to the extent that analytical concepts form topoi and – in inverted form – serve as rules for construction of new textual features.

The development and research in SitsimLab is conducted in close collaboration with Tomas Stenarson at CodeGrind AB and Šarūnas Ledas at Tag of Joy, Elpida Hadjidaki (Phalasarna Association) Larry Friedlander (Stanford University), Terje Rasmussen (University of Oslo), Andrew Morrison (AHO) and Ole Smørdal (UiO). The research has been funded by the MaR-e-BoX, Cross Motion and CINE EU–projects; VERDIKT-programme (The INVENTIO-project) and the KLIMAFORSK-programme (The ClimSim-preproject), Norwegian Research Council; EngageLab at University of Oslo; Dept. of Media & Communication and CRMI (Centre for Research om Media Innovations), University of Oslo; Norway Opening Universities; Arts Council Norway (ABM-utvikling); and Oslo Science Park (Forskningsparken).

Skjermbilde 2015-07-29 kl. 15.49.58

The Sitsim AR Editor is available for free download!

Sitsim AR Editor is made to simplify the process of creating sitsim applications. The editor guides the user through a step-by-step process of configuring a sitsim application and adding content. After creating a basic sitsim application, the user is free to add more content or build the application as it is to a device. The Sitsim AR Editor has been created as part of the CINE–project (EU/Interreg).

Sitsim Apps (free)

'Old Narva' (v. 1.0) is available for iOS
'Omaha Beach'
(v. 1.1) is available for iOS.
'Phalasarna' (v. 1.2) is available for iOS.

Awards & Nominations!

Pasted Graphic GLAMi 2015-finalist Unity-Awards-finalist-2013
The Old Narva App was finalist for The Best in Heritage Imagines Award 2020, and won a GLAMi Award at Museums & the Web 2019 in Boston! The Phalasarna App was Unity Award Finalist in 2015 and the Roman Forum App in 2013 (both in the Visualization/Simulation category).

Video DEMOs

Several video demonstrations of sitsims in use are available online:

Old Narva – A Photo Positioning Puzzle (Sitsim DEMO VI, February 2019)
HOW TO use the Omaha Beach app! (March 2018, rough edit)
Omaha Beach – Sitsim DEMO V (June 2017)
Phalasarna – Sitsim DEMO IV (July 2015)
Video sequence of the Via Appia sitsim prototype (April 2014, unedited)
Climate Change – Sitsim DEMO III (February 2014)
Video illustration of the Jerusalem HolyMount sitsim in use (March 2013)
Video clips of the Roman Forum sitsim in use (October 2012, unedited)
Sitsim DEMO II (July 2010)
Situated Simulation DEMO (November 2009).



The project has so far been presented at the following conferences: IMCL 2009, EISTA 2009, ISMAR 2009, ICCE 2009, EDEN 2010, MLearn 2010, CELDA 2010, ScandAR 2010, WARM 2011, ScandAR 2011, Locale & Mobile 2012, CAA 2012, DREAM 2012, MobileHCI2012, EuroMed2012, WARM 2013, Museums and the Web 2013, Nordmedia 2013, Digital Heritage 2013, ISMAR 2013, NODEM 2013, EUROMED 2014, EUscreenXL 2014, VSMM 2014, Condition 2015, EduLearn 2015, WARM 2016, CAA 2016, The Big Picture 2016, EUROMED 2016, World Learning Summit 2017, TOCREA 2017, DCH 2017, HF Under the Mediterranean 2017, ISMI 2017, VSMM 2017, Reality Check 2017, Let's Play with Heritage 2018, Museums and the Web 2018, Digital Heritage Congress 2018, Museums and the Web 2019, Museums and the Web 2020.