History goes high-tech at James Monroe’s Highland

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — One of the historic properties where James Monroe resided will soon allow visitors to explore it in a new way.

Highland, which is owned by the College of William & Mary, will offer augmented reality (AR) tours using smart glasses. It will be the first site in the country to introduce this type of experience.

“We’re all about trying new things,” explains Sara Bon-Harper, the Highland Executive Director.

Monroe lived at Highland, a 535-acre farm, with his family from 1799 to 1823.

AR will give guests an opportunity to see parts of the property they could not before, such as archaeological remnants of the original house that are buried.

For this AR program, Highland is teaming up with Japanese technology firm Epson and ARtGlass, which is a storytelling software developer.

“The power of historic sites is tied to the power of the storytelling experience,” says Greg Werkheiser, the ARtGlass co-founder and CEO. “It’s not just about showing up and looking at objects and places. It’s about being intellectually and emotionally moved by the experience.”

AR tours will be available to visitors beginning February 5. Highland plans to offer them permanently after the testing phase.

Highland is located off Route 795 in Albemarle County.

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