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New London mural tour and app demo planned for Saturday

New London — A free walking tour of two dozen downtown murals will be highlighted by the unveiling Saturday at the Hygienic Underground Galleries of a free web application developed at Connecticut College.

Conn senior Virginia Gresham will be producing the event, "Streetside with New London Mural Artists," with doors to the Hygienic at 79 Bank St. opening at 10:30 a.m. and a guided walking tour starting at 11 a.m. The tour will highlight the capabilities of the CamelTours app that — by scanning a QR code with a smartphone — can provide a self-guided tour of 24 murals painted mostly on the sides of downtown buildings.

"CamelTours.org is a locally developed, free web app for mobile devices designed to help visitors better understand and interpret their surroundings when traveling through communities," according to a description of the project. "Multimedia presentations created with CamelTours.org enhance in-person visits to cultural heritage sites, landscape features and buildings."

This particular tour provides the experience of hearing interviews with many of the artists behind the colorful city murals that dot downtown streets from Bank Street to Golden Street. It was done in collaboration with mural artists, Hygienic Art, building owners and the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology at Conn.

According to a release, the digital tour is believed to be "the largest cohesive, technology-aided mural walk in all of New England." The idea was jointly broached to students by Conn professors Christine Chung in the computer science department and Anthony Graesch in the anthropology department.

Plans are for the digital technology to be taken on the road to other communities, using it for a wide range of applications, including tours of historical buildings, heritage sites and community gardens.

"Requiring access to only the most basic of digital tech — a web browser, an audio recorder, and a digital camera — communities can quickly create and publish audio-narrated, image-based presentations or walking tours that can be viewed on mobile devices," the release said.

Instead of static signage that can fade over time and is difficult to change, the app allows for presentations to be updated at any time with new information and supplementary material.

Among the Conn students or graduates who have played a part in developing the app were Evan Gray, Jennifer Blagg, Amit Kinha, Dillon Kerr, Julia Proft, Khanh Nghiem and the event producer, Gresham.

Kristin Harkness, who owns the downtown software firm Bits and Pixels LLC, helped in the completion of the project this year.

l.howard@theday.com 

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