Situated Simulations (SitsimLab)

Designing a Platform for Mobile Augmented Reality 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 VERDIKT-programme (The INVENTIO-project) and the KLIMAFORSK-programme (The ClimSim-preproject), Norwegian Research Council; EngageLab at University of Oslo; Dept. of Media & Communication, University of Oslo; Norway Opening Universities; Arts Council Norway (ABM-utvikling); and Oslo Science Park (Forskningsparken).

Skjermbilde 2015-07-29 kl. 15.49.58

Sitsim Apps (free)

'Phalasarna' (v. 1.1) is available for iOS.
'Roman Forum’
(v. 1.2) is available for download on both iOS and Android!
'Nytt Museum' (v. 2.0) download iOS and (v. 1.0) Android!
'Vikinghallen' (v. 2.0) download iOS.


2015-finalist Unity-Awards-finalist-2013
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:

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.