RAF Launches Free AR App To Mark The Royal Air Force’s Centenary.

Experience the historic London RAF flypast from the comfort of your garden.

Today marks the Royal Air Force (RAF) centenary, and to celebrate the momentous occasion a historic flypast was conducted directly over Buckingham Palace. This was by far the largest concentration of military aircraft seen over the UK capital in recent memory. The festive occasion was also attended by both Prince William and Harry, with Meghan and Kate looking their best. Us Brit’s love that sort of pageantry…

But if you were unable to be in central London to watch it all live, you can still see it using AR on your smartphone or tablet. The RAF created a RAF100 Flypast free AR app for iOS and Android that allows you to experience all the action.

There are 35 types of aircraft featured on the app, spanning the entire history of the RAF, from the latest, state-of-the-art F35 Lightning, to the iconic Spitfire and the Sopwith Camel. The planes will be released in tranches to mark the different stages of the RAF100 Aircraft Tour. The next installment takes place during the Horse Guards Parade in London from 6th- 9th July.

The planes will be released in tranches to mark the different stages of the RAF100 Aircraft Tour, which is open to the public and will be touring the country over the coming months. Visitors will be able to get up close to a mixture of active, heritage and replica aircraft on display, all of which having played a major part in the RAF’s 100 year history and will do so moving forwards. This includes the new F35-B Lightning II – Britain’s new, state of the art stealth combat aircraft that has just come into service.

The app was created in partnership with students from Lincoln University. It was tested with Air Training Corps cadets as well as school children from Lincolnshire to ensure it struck the right chord to engage with young audiences.

Using the app, users will not only see fully realistic 3D planes flying over their gardens, but they’ll create their own flypasts, capture and collect aircraft, view them in scaled augmented reality and learn more about their technical specifications and history.

“They will also be able to find out about the history of each plane, as well as being able to create and collect their own planes and watch the RAF100Flypast from the comfort of their own gardens,” says Air Commodore Chris Jones. “The App is a fun way to showcase the RAF’s use of innovation and technology, and we hope it will inspire the next generation of aerospace pioneers.”

People are also being encouraged to share their own images and video of their favourite flypasts in their best locations over the summer using the #RAF100 hashtag. The RAF will then choose the best content from younger users and invite them to display their achievements on the big screen in the RAF100 Inspire Zone at the Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow & RAF100 finale on 22nd – 23rd September.

This is not the only use of immersive tech to celebrate the RAF centenary though. The BBC also announced a preview of a new experience that will be available later this year.

1943: Berlin Blitz puts you in the shoes of BBC Journalist Wynford Vaughan-Thomas who joined the RAF on a real-life bombing run to Berlin during the Second World War. The narrative builds up the tension as you travel closer to Berlin, listening to Wynford’s radio programme throughout. The film, which was recorded in the belly of a Lancaster Bomber on its way to Berlin at the height of the war, is an extraordinary piece of journalism that has been given a new life through VR.

It all shows how immersive tech is equally good at helping us to remember the past as it is towards looking to the future. Or perhaps it’s just a good bit of fun watching some amazing airplanes go by…

It is nice to see traditional institutions such as the RAF embracing technologies such as AR and VR – perhaps yet another sign that they are hitting the mainstream. The educational VR experience is expected to launch later this year on unknown platforms.

Image Credit: RAF / BBC


About the Scout

Alice Bonasio

Alice Bonasio runs the Tech Trends blog and contributes to Ars Technica, Quartz, Newsweek, The Next Web, and others. She is also writing VRgins, a book about sex and relationships in the virtual age. She lives in the UK.

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