Apple’s Reality Composer, a Free AR App

In collaboration with the Center for Digital Innovation in Learning (CDIL), Digital Scholarship and the BC Libraries have begun exploring the use of AR experiences in teaching and research. As part of this effort, we have been experimenting with Apple’s Reality Composer, a free AR app that allows for the creation of basic AR experiences without the need for coding skills. Here you will find a series of AR projects created with it. Clicking the image on an iPhone or iPad* will automatically open the model.

*Currently, these experiences are only accessible through Apple iPhones or iPads running an up-to-date iOS. We have iPads and Reality Composer as part of our 3D modeling station.


Animated robot AR model as seen on the Apple Quick Look gallery


Lion-headed stamp AR model created in the BC Digital Studio

Simple 3D models in Apple’s .usdz format allows them to be opened in AR and to be in a WordPress or Omeka page, as seen here. Clicking the image on an iPhone or iPad will automatically open the model in AR when pointed at a horizontal surface; clicking on a Mac or PC will download the AR file.

The two models above are simply models, but using Apple’s Reality Composer allows you to create more complex experiences with basic interactions without needing to code.

In the example below, built for a Boston College biology class, 3D models of hominid skulls were created using photogrammetry, uploaded into Sketchfab, and placed in AR to share with students, in order to replicate the experience of engaging with the models in the classroom.

Simply click the 2D image of a skull, and the AR experience will begin to load. Please note that the experience may take 15 seconds to 1 minute or so to load depending on the iPhone or iPad in use and the internet connection, and requires a flat, horizontal anchoring surface.

AR experience created by Nina Araújo; 3D models by Matt Naglak.


Hominoid skull

A second example was created using 3D models of an active excavation site just outside of Rome, Italy. It allows users to “re-excavate” a specific ancient tomb on the site and see the specialized burial technique that was utilized. The experience opens at life-size, so a relatively open space is necessary (Trigger warning: a 3D model of an adult skeleton uncovered which dates to around 100 BC is shown). 3D models by the Gabii Project; AR experience by Matt Naglak.


Ancient tomb outside of Rome Italy

Interested in AR but on a Google or Android device? Check out the variety of AR apps available for download from Google Arts and Cultures or from the Google AR/VR page. Note these apps are mostly also available on Apple products as well.

Venetian Art and Architecture

Venetian Art and Architecture is an ongoing project by Professor Stephanie Leone and the students of ARTH3344, is a course resource featuring digital exhibits curated by students. The collections showcase the visual culture of Venice, utilizing exhibits that correspond with topics of study in the course, including architecture, sculpture, artists and visual themes that are prevalent in Venetian art history. The site serves as an accessible guide to course content and is an opportunity for students to collaborate on a shared intellectual project.

This project was built using Omeka, an open source platform that supports digital exhibits and curation. The site was originally developed in collaboration with members of the Digital Scholarship Group, Visual Resources Curator, and an undergraduate research assistant.

Keywords: Digital Exhibition, Images, Metadata, Teaching

Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music

Launched at the end of 2016, the Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music is a digital archive featuring traditional tunes and songs collected by master fiddle player Séamus Connolly, Sullivan Artist in Residence in Irish Music at Boston College (2004 to 2015) and National Heritage Fellow (2013). Freely available, the collection offers over 330 audio recordings featuring more than 130 musicians via SoundCloud, with accompanying stories, transcriptions, and introductory essays.

This project was created through a partnership between Séamus Connolly and the Boston College Libraries.

Keywords: Audio, Digital Exhibition, Metadata, Music Transcription

J. Donald Monan, S.J. (1924–2017)

The J. Donald Monan, S.J. exhibit was designed by the Digital Scholarship Group to celebrate and reflect on Fr. Monan’s immense contributions to Boston College and beyond. When Reverend J. Donald Monan, S.J., died on March 18, 2017, BC not only lost its 24th president, it lost its modern institutional architect. We at BC grieve his loss and do our best to carry his devotion to teaching, scholarship, and building communities into a new era.

Morales Mass Book

Morales Mass Book is an open-access companion site to the First Book of Masses by Cristóbal de Morales (ca. 1550-1553), a Spanish composer at the Papal chapel in Rome. The project explores the Missarum liber primus (Lyon: Moderne, 1546) focusing on the composer, the printer, and the processes that informed the composition of four of Morales’s polyphonic masses. In addition, video and audio recordings invite us into the world of Morales’s superb music. The physical 1546 edition of the Missarum liber primus was acquired by the John J. Burns Library in 2011.

This project is a collaboration between Boston College Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Group and the Music Department in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.

Keywords: Audio, Images, Video

Jesuit Online Bibliography

The Jesuit Online Bibliography is a re-envisioned, open access and fully searchable database of bibliographic records for scholarship in Jesuit Studies produced in the 21st century. This database contains more than 15,000 records of books, book chapters, journal articles, book reviews, dissertations, conference papers, and multimedia content, with the records also being accessible through The Portal to Jesuit Studies, an open access resource for Jesuit research and scholarship.

The Boston College Libraries project team developed this resource in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies (IAJS). Built using open source technology, the code used is available in the BC Libraries’ GitHub repository.

Keywords: Database, Metadata, Open Access

The Becker Collection: Drawings of the American Civil War Era

The Becker Collection: Drawings of the American Civil War Era contains over 600 “first-hand” drawings that document in lively and specific ways nineteenth-century America’s struggle to establish its national identity.

Joseph Becker (1841–1910) and his colleagues were artist-reporters who witnessed scenes of Civil War battles, railroad construction, the Chicago Fire, and other newsworthy items of their day. Upon having made sketches, the works were sent to Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, where wood engraving illustrations based on them were engraved and published.

This project is a collaboration between Boston College Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Group at the and the Art, Art History, and Film Department in BC’s Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.

Keywords: Database, Digital Exhibition, Images, Metadata, Mapping

Burns Antiphoner

The fourteenth-century Burns Antiphoner, now held in the collections of Boston College’s John J. Burns Library, is an illuminated manuscript antiphoner (from the Latin antiphonale, or antiphonarium, a book of antiphons), a volume of monophonic chant—plainsong, or plainchant—originally used by male or female religious personnel for singing the divine office of the Roman Catholic church. This digital iteration of the antiphoner features a manuscript viewer, transcriptions of the text, videos of chant performances, and full-text search functionality.

This project is a partnership of the Boston College Libraries and the Music Department in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, with the support of an Academic Technology Innovation Grant.

Keywords: Music Transcription, Video

3D / AR Projects

In collaboration with the Center for Digital Innovation and Learning, Earth and Environmental Science, Engineering, Art History, Music, and Biology, the DS team has been exploring the creation of 3D models using photogrammetric methods as well as laser scanning for use in research and the classroom. These models are uploaded into Sketchfab for sharing online and then incorporated into various other projects (e.g. H5P video presentations, exploratory AR applications) by the CDIL team.

All models can be found in the Digital Studio Sketchfab collection for exploration and downloading, and the equipment is available for use by the BC community in the O’Neill Library Digital Studio (see our 3D data page for more information).

John La Farge, Stained Glass in New England

John La Farge Stained Glass in New England complements the exhibition John La Farge and the Recovery of the Sacred shown at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College from September 1-December 13, 2015 and curated by Professor Jeffery Howe of Boston College. This project includes images of all the currently known works of stained glass windows by La Farge in churches, museums, and universities in Massachusetts, many in Rhode Island, and some of La Farge’s most notable windows in New York. In addition to images of La Farge’s windows, the Digital Guide provides a biography of the artist, timelines regarding La Farge’s artistic career, maps of the windows’ locations, architectural descriptions, and lists of museums that hold La Farge’s works.

Keywords: Digital Exhibition, Images, Mapping, Timeline