From A Dollar Bill to The White House: The Power of Education Through Augmented Reality

Technology and education have increasingly merged as people experiment with innovative ways of connecting with their audiences. The White House is no exception.

On Thursday, the White House, in collaboration with both the White House Historical Association and Nexus Studios, released an app called 1600 that allows you to get an in depth experience of the history of the White House through augmented reality. All you need is a smart phone and a dollar bill.

The goal of the project is “to create this augmented reality experience – to educate and inspire Americans to learn all about what the People’s House stands for,” according to Press Secretary John Earnest in a White House blog post.

“From hosting festivals on the South Lawn to allowing people to explore its rooms via Google Street View, President Obama has used traditional events and new technology to open up the doors of the White House to more Americans than ever before,” said Earnest.

This launch comes a little late after the recent rise in popularity in augmented reality. One example is through PokemonGo, which encourages whole communities to come together in cities like Washington, DC to experience the world of Pokemon through their smart phones. But the role of augmented reality is still growing.

“It’s going to get bigger and bigger because, just like we’ve been going to textbooks for learning, we’re now realizing that augmented reality is now becoming like a textbook. You can have learning in many different areas,” said Brad Waid, Augmented Reality Officer for Augthat, in an interview with MediaFile.

With low costs, Waid explained, it is going to become easier and easier for this type of technology to be incorporated into education for years to come.

“The great thing about augmented reality is that you’re only limited by your imagination. You can pretty much augment any image if you will, so now anything can become a learning opportunity. We can now learn anywhere,” said Waid.

This app is a step forward for augmented reality on two levels, as Waid explains.

First, the government’s recognition of the viability of this technology is a big push in the ways people view the purpose and impact of augmented reality within education.

The second is focused around the rise in accessibility of education tools for anyone like the 1600 app.

“Anywhere there is a dollar bill, you can learn…there are a hundred million dollar bills in the world, that’s like a hundred million textbooks, a hundred million learning opportunities. Learning is in our pockets,” said Waid.

The 1600 app is another example of the Obama Administration setting out to bridge the gap between citizens and the government through technology. “Since his first full day in office, President Obama has prioritized making government more open and accountable and has taken substantial steps to increase citizen participation, collaboration, and transparency in government,” according to’s “Open Government” page.

With only a smartphone and a dollar bill, the government continuing their mission by empowering citizens to connect with the White House through education.

“We can pull out a dollar bill, scan it with our phones, and now we have information about the White House,” said Waid. “That just shows the power and the ease of putting learning everywhere. You can now learn everywhere, any time.”

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