From U of T to Augmented Reality

Recent grad Shanlon Gilbert works to improve user interface design and is pushing herself to learn more about augmented reality and its cultural applications. After finishing her masters in Museum Studies at the University of Toronto, Gilbert started working as a Junior UX Designer at VERB Interactive in Halifax, N.S. There she focuses on A/B testing: optimizing websites for users.


Gilbert took a course at KMDI: KMD1001 Theory & Methods in Knowledge Media Design taught by Professor Olivier St-Cyr. At her job, she employs skills she learned from KMD1001 like heuristic evaluation and wire framing. What Gilbert is passionate about is augmented reality (AR). Her capstone project was an app and she designed a course in her master’s work that focused around AR apps and user experience.

“That kind of augmented reality where information is being tied back into the physical landscape can be very useful in a tourism setting,” Gilbert said. “With my background in museums I see it as an opportunity to be tying stories back into the landscape to create galleries and experiences that don’t interfere with local businesses or with the ecosystem or the environment as much as a physical gallery, museum or signpost would.”

Gilbert explained how (AR) apps can be especially useful for marginalized people. Specifically, she explained that AR doesn’t require creators to get permission to interpret physical space in the same way they would if they were creating a physical marker, sign or even using QR codes.

Gilbert mentioned the app Wikiupedia as an example of reclaiming spaces. It is led by Adrian Duke, originally of Muscowpetung First Nation. Users can use this app in various places in Vancouver to experience stories. For example, at the Skwachàys Lodge in Vancouver, Raven, modeled after an indigenous work of art, appears to tell the story of the importance of the hotel.

Gilbert also notes that AR may be used maliciously by those who want to spread misinformation or to change the way the space is viewed. But what makes AR so interesting is that, like in the case of Wikiupedia, AR can be an act of healing for those whose spaces have been taken from them.

We love to hear that our students are grappling with  interesting challenges in their careers. Thank you Shanlon for sharing your work with us! Keep checking the KMDI page for more updates from our alumni!