Dürrenstein Wilderness Reserve is home to one of the largest ancient forests in Central Europe and UNESCO world natural heritage. And the Haus der Wildnis (Dürrenstein’s visitor center) decided to use technology as a bridge between humans and nature to help people learn all about the value of wilderness.
This series of interactive installations would showcase educational content about the primeval forest’s extraordinary ecological features, such as the life cycles of different species, the biodiversity of its ecosystem, and the area’s ecological succession.
Our job for this particular installation was to use immersive technology to provide a hands-on nature education on the changes in geology, landforms, flora, and fauna of the forest in a comprehensive way. That is how Time Tracer was born.
Time Tracer is an interactive installation that uses Augmented Reality (AR) to visualize the transformation of the Dürrenstein natural preserve in time and space. From the birth and extinction of glaciers to animal migration and humans‘ first appearance, it invites users to look closely at the constant movement of nature and witness the impact of human intervention in the wilderness.
Holding a tablet, visitors can go around a landscape model and move back and forth throughout the area’s natural history by sliding their fingers over a visual timeline. Time Tracer also allows users to switch between fauna and flora timelines or see both simultaneously.
The use of tablets and tablet stations makes Time Tracer an engaging experience for individual visitors as well as for small groups of 2 to 4 people. As a result, knowledge transfer can occur for single visits as much as for visitor groups and school classes.
Time Tracer will premiere at the end of May 2021, when Haus der Wildnis will officially open its doors. During the pre-opening press release, some of Austria’s most renowned journalists and government representatives got a chance to try it and gave us their positive reviews. We also already had the honour of seeing Time Tracer being used as a flagship installation by the Haus der Wildnis team to promote the visitor center.
The Time Tracer AR installation is one of the core pieces of our exhibition. In a vivid way, it puts the wilderness area Dürrenstein-Lassingtal not only in a geographical but also in a temporal context. Thanks to modern technology, visitors of all ages get a unique impression of how much a habitat can slowly change over thousands of years and what effects this consequently has on the communities living in it. Especially in the context of the current climate change issue, this makes it a particularly exciting project!
—Ramona Schmidt. Museum Director Haus der Wildnis/Wildnisgebiet Dürrenstein. Biologist & Associate of the Austrian Forestry Federation.