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About The Project

Twenty-nine Superfund sites are located Silicon Valley, the largest concentration in the U.S. The public is not always aware of these sites and their degree of toxicity. Many of these sites lie underneath suburban neighborhoods without obvious signs of pollution. In the past Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) – a research, advocacy and grassroots environmental justice organization - offered tours of these sites educating the public about the realities of technology production and its byproducts. However, because most of the pollution is in the groundwater participants found it difficult to fully envision the problem.

In response to the need to tell this historically important story a custom Augmented Reality Software (ARS) app was developed creating a unique, interactive documentary tour about the Superfund sites of Silicon Valley. Using the ARS app running on smart devices tour participants hear, see and interact with the history of the site and people affected by environmental pollution.

The ARS Application running on the iPhone and iPad utilizes GPS capabilities to locate a viewer. The viewer points the device at the landscape and the App overlays real time video from the device's camera with text, images, interactive 3D graphics, and animations accompanied by sound recording particular to the viewer's location. The software enables an interactive interpretively rich lens through which participants can fully experience the landscape and its history. Participants on the tour wander the site with a device and encounter this history through the voices, science and stories connected to its legacy of pollution.

This project was supported in part by:

UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) Committee on Research Scholarly Research Grant

UCSC Arts Research Institute Grant

UCSC Arts Division Dean's Excellence Fund

Notes on Using the Silicon Monuments App

At this time the Silicon Monuments App only runs on iPad 2 or newer. Once you start the app a 'loading world' screen appears. Once the world has loaded, dots appear on the bottom of the screen to indicate the GPS strength. The App can be run at the site using GPS location information or at any location by setting the App in Local Mode. To put the App into Local Mode tap the icon in the upper left hand corner of the screen. The information/instruction screen appears. on the upper right hand corner of the screen there is another icon. Tap this icon and the App toggles into Local Mode. Tap 'Done' on the bottom right of the screen.

Once the App is in Local Mode four buttons appear on the lower left hand side of the screen. Tapping each of these buttons brings up the augments for each of the four locations. Search for the augments and then hit the lock button on the upper right hand corner of the screen. This will lock the augment to the screen. A slider appears in the lower right corner. Use the slider to bring the augment closer or further away.


  • “Because of what I did...

    Alida Hernandez, Clean Room Worker

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    John Doe, Manager

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    Jane Smith, President