The Thamién Ohlone AR Tour

The Ohlone people have stewarded the land Santa Clara University (SCU) is built on for thousands of years and remain here today, and yet there are no physical markers on SCU’s campus highlighting their story. Our project aims to use Augmented Reality to envision a more just future by showing what physical markers could exist showcasing their legacy on the land and connect with Indigenous traditions of place-based storytelling.

Our Objective:

To use augmented reality to make Native pasts, presents, and futures visible at Santa Clara University and understand how augmented reality can be used for social justice

Recognitions and Awards

  • 3 initial tour stops launched for Indigenous People’s Day (Oct 9, 2023).
  • Appeared on 4 local Bay Area TV news stations (331 tour visitors).
  • Launched tour and 1 more stop at the SCU Powwow (May 4, 2024).
  • “We Are Still Here: The Thámien Ohlone Augmented Reality Tour” video won Best Movie award at CHI 2024
Research Contributions

  • Why here?” Identifying key socio-technical considerations for tying stories to the land in the design of AR tours
  • Discovering best practices when working with non-technical collaborators
  • Novel methods for the co-design of location-based AR experiences
AR For Large Audiences

  • Scale and stability have been a challenge for past work in AR, requiring specialized hardware and chaperones. Our work offers a web browser-based, large-scale, self-guided tour accessible for large audiences.
  • By keeping the stops “bite-size” (~2 min), we reduced long loading times resulting from more complex, larger experiences and minimized user fatigue from holding up their phone for longer periods of time.

To try out the tour scan the QR Code!

Future Plans

Our future plans include implementing up to 20 new stops and developing a AR toolkit for social justice tours to help other researchers utilize AR


Muwekma Ohlone Tribe culture bearers and language keepers including but not limited to: Gloria E. Gomez, Isabella Amne Gomez, Georgiana “Gigi” Kormey Gomez, and Monica V. Arellano

SCU student researchers: Madison Nguyen, Cinthya Jauregui, Dominic Woetzel, Tiffany Nguyen, Mohan Raj Chandrasekar, Liam A’Hearn, Isabella Amne Gomez, Sarah Hazel, Xinqi Zhang, Brian Khuu, Aryan Bagade, Pinak Paliwal, Vedya Konda, and Elliot Lee

Faculty Advisors: Kai Lukoff, Amy Lueck, Lee Panich, Danielle Heitmuller