They make historical research come alive in modern gaming environments

2019-04-09

John Ljungkvist and Daniel Löwenborg in front of Uppsala Cathedral which was the first historical setting that was created in the new app Visir Uplandia.

Daniel Löwenborg and John Ljungkvist are the two archaeologists behind the apps that let us enter straight into historical environments in Uppsala and its surrounding area. Motivation, support for starting a business and a team with all the right skills are components that make it possible to transfer research to digital worlds.

How did you come up with the idea?

“In connection with the excavations in Gamla Uppsala 2010, we thought a lot about how we could convey all the data in a good way. The idea of somehow digitally visualizing the research results started to grow, and became a reality when game developers joined our team. We were all very into the idea and motivated to go for it”, say Daniel Löwenborg and John Ljungkvist.

You developed a prototype - what happened next?

“We developed the first prototype for Gamla Uppsala’s historical setting in just a few months. Entering into a digital world with the help of a reading tablet, gyro, GPS and compass to see a reconstruction of the buildings was a fantastic experience! We then gradually developed the content of the first prototype and created more rooms and more characters. We wanted everything to be close to perfect before we launched the app, which we did in August 2016."

You started the company Disir Productions in 2015 - was it a natural step?

“While our ideas became concrete, questions arose as to how the collaboration and development would proceed. Building apps was not a natural part of any research project. We had actually never considered the option of starting a business but it became clear to us that it could be a way to move things forward. Said and done, as the pieces began to fall into place, we formed a company together with the game developer Daniel Westergren and archaeologist Helena Hulth and with the support of several investors, including Uppsala University's holding company."

In what way have UU Innovation supported you?

“With the help of UU Innovation we got in touch with the skills we needed to move from idea to prototype, and we also got some funding for initial work. They continued to be actively involved throughout the process, via the start of our company up to the point where we received funding to develop apps for additional historical environments in Uppsala County as part of the development project Augmented Export in Region Uppsala." 

How does the work of developing apps contribute to your continued research?

“Questions arise as we are building the environments and they reveal where there are gaps in knowledge. This leads to new exciting research ideas."

Learn more about Disir Productions on the company's website.

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