The Augmented Square Mile

06/08/2011 00:00
KHOJ International Artists' Association and Blue Ant Intelligence propose new ways of engaging with media practices through the interface of art
Augmented Square Mile
KHOJ Studios, New Delhi
Saturday, 6 August 2011
Blue Ant Digita...

The Augmented Square Mile is a project that will create a layer of information, images and text over one square mile around KHOJ, which can be seen and discovered, using augmented reality applications on smart phones.

Khirkee, where the KHOJ Studios is located, offers snippets of the changing face of Delhi. For within this square mile, we have one of Delhi’s biggest malls, a little sliver of new offices of the lower courts and parts of a village going through rapid urbanization. Khirkee is a large heterogeneous collection of neighbourhoods keeping up with the emerging character of contemporary India.

The project adds meaning and information to the existing place - Khirkee, by enriching user experience. Simultaneously, through images, text and other forms of digital art, users can expand their understanding not only about the place, but also about contemporary arts.  It allows the opening of new modes and models of learning, discovering, and knowledge exchange through technological intervention.

1SAM Website*


* system offline


In order to create The Augmented Square Mile (ASM), we plan to mark out an area of a square mile, with its center at KHOJ’s offices, at Khirkee extension.

Fig 1: The Square Mile

KHOJ has actively supported a sustained community and public arts programme in an attempt to connect with the larger community that KHOJ is located in. For over seven years, several artists have worked in the Khirkee community projects that range from shop make-overs and interactive media projects to art education and youth interest programmes. With an archive of over 3000 images of 35 community projects, KHOJ can not only offer an insight into the changing relationship with Khirkee community, but also the radical shift in the way art has been communicated, perceived and comprehended over the years.

Once the area of the square mile is mapped out, we will geo-tag a host of images and texts from KHOJ’s database. While KHOJ already has a significant collection of images and texts, given the crowd-sourced nature of the work, we will also invite professionals and amateurs to geo-tag images and texts. These images will range from pictures of the structures in that area to putting up personal moments, creating an overlapping collage. The texts are expected to be snippets from works of fiction and poetry that were written in the area.

These geotagged images and texts will be made available on a Layar (an augmented reality browser,, for free viewing on iOS and Android smart phones. Images can be easily uploaded from smartphone or cameras to ‘our layar’[1], creating a layer of words and images visible over the ever-changing landscape of this area.

By putting up geo-tagged images and texts in one concentrated square mile, we feel that in the augmented reality browser, people will experience a collage of emotions and thoughts of others who have been in the same space. This will be in sharp contrast to areas viewable in the square mile, but not a part of it, which have absolutely no augmented reality content. Thus, our layar will become a digital artwork in one of the most vibrant parts of the city.

Furthermore, since we plan to encourage the community to contribute images and texts, we feel that returning viewers will have a new experience every time they use our layer. Overtime, the very change in the layer will become a narrative of the changes in the square mile, telling us a story of Delhi and its people.


Step 1: Starting the upload and layar

To begin the ASM project, KHOJ and BlueAnt will start geo-tagging its existing collection of images and texts from the square mile around KHOJ’s offices. This information will be stored, on a database on a hosted service online. This database will contain the URL of the images (once they are hosted), the latitude and longitude of where the image was taken, along with the information that the layar api requires.

These database will then be connected to text layar, by registering as a layar developer at At this stage, we will make adjustments to ensure that the images can be seen in the square mile around KHOJ. This test layar will then be tested on various Android and iOS devices.

Once we are satisfied with the content and user experience, our layar will be submitted to layar for approval. Post-approval it will become available to all Layar users.

Fig 2: The Upload Process

Step 2: Adding contributions from the community

Once this is done and our layar is functional, we will start asking for content contributions from smart phone users present or visiting the square mile. In order for them to contribute these images, we will make a public interface in the form of a simple webpage, that will let them upload and getag images taken by them in the square mile.

On this webpage, users will be asked to enter the latitude and longitude information of where the image was taken and upload the image. The latitude and longitude information will be collected by asking users to move a pointer on a google map screen to the point where the image was taken. The latitude and longitude information will then be taken from that point. The users will then be asked to upload the image.

Once the image and the getagged information are submitted by the user on the webpage, it will go to KHOJ and BlueAnt for approval and moderation. If approved, the image and the geographic information will be added to the database mentioned in section 1.

In this case, the information flow will be:


Fig 3: The Community Upload Process

Thus as people contribute more images, the database will expand, and more images will be available on our layar. Since the number of images on the layar will be ever-changing, the content on our layar will also keep changing, giving users a new experience every time.

A similar system will also be developed for adding text at certain points. Like digital graffiti, interested users will be able to submit stylized text on the OSAM webpage. However, this stylized text will have to be submitted as an image file and this will also be moderated.

Taking figure 2 further, at that point, we hope that there will be more contributions from the community, changing the flow to:


Fig 4: The Community Contribution model

The web interface for the submission of images and text by the smart phone community could look like:

Fig 5: Rough Cut UI for Submission page

Step 3: Energizing the community

Once the Web interface for the database is ready, we plan to integrate it into Facebook via a Facebook application, which will pull out the web interface and place it within the Facebook frame.

This application will then be placed in the KHOJ and BlueAnt Facebook pages, enabling fans to submit their content via Facebook, helping get more contributions. Furthermore, all new and returning fans will be redirected to the application page as a means to increasing contributions to our layar and helping make the crowd-sourcing easier and possibly viral.

Fig 5: UI for FB application embedded in the FB page

[1] The augmented reality browser Layar, lets users create various layers of information that they want to display at particular locations. These are also called layars. For more information have a look at