Ever curious about experiencing augmented reality? Then, Downtown Long Beach is the place to be on Sunday, August 8, from noon to 5 PM around Harvey Milk Park and the Promenade. 


That’s where visitors will be able to easily interact with businesses, murals and buildings by simply using their smartphones. It’s part of the inaugural Long Beach Augmented Reality (AR) Challenge with 27 teams – 14 from Long Beach – competing for $14,000 in prize money.


For DLBA, the exhibition is an opportunity to not only directly encounter and learn about new technology, but to stimulate the economy. Participants will be able to vote for their favorite AR experience – a part of judging – and enjoy some of the local restaurants and shops throughout the Promenade. This includes various AR areas with more than 20 trigger points on Broadway through Long Beach Boulevard and Fourth Street.


If you are not familiar with the technology, AR allows virtual objects to be overlaid in real-world environments in real-time. Unlike virtual reality that tries to recreate and replace an entire real-life environment with a virtual one, augmented reality is about enriching an image of the real world with computer-generated images and digital information. It seeks to change perception by adding video, infographics, images, sound, and other details.


“The Long Beach AR Challenge is an exciting opportunity to bring new immersive AR experiences to Downtown Long Beach and form new partnerships,” said Technology and Innovation Department Director Lea Eriksen. “The AR Challenge is part of Long Beach’s Smart City Initiative and in alignment with the recently launched Long Beach Accelerator and is designed to encourage new investments and development of talent in the local technology ecosystem.” 


Some may recall that Long Beach briefly experimented with AR technology in December of 2016. That’s when a local entrepreneur brought to life a mural of Harvey Milk at Harvey Milk Park. Another popular example was the launch in July 2016 of the Pokémon GO mobile app based on the highly popular video game.