Jon Amakawa specializes in creating interpretive historical exhibits and augmented reality mobile apps. He has extensive experience in presenting historical landmarks relating to the Underground Railroad, Slavery, and Freedom seekers in American history and has worked closely with the United States National Park Service’s Network to Freedom Program. His mobile apps are some of the first to use augmented reality technology to interpret US National Park Service sites. Jon’s work has become particularly applicable for cultural heritage sites that have been challenging to interpret and where little visibly remains for the public to see. He has been invited to present at the Organization of American Historians Conference and co-authored the article New Philadelphia – Using Augmented Reality to Interpret Slavery and Reconstruction Era Historical Sites with Swedish researcher Dr. Jonathan Westin, at Gothenburg University, for the International Journal of Heritage Studies.
In addition to the US National Park Service, Jon’s clients have included Disney Research, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Smithsonian affiliated Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA. From Slavery to Freedom, a permanent exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA, for which he developed touch screen virtual reality kiosks has won awards including the “American Association for State and Local History, Leadership in History Award for 2013; African Diaspora World Tourism Award, Cultural Exhibit Flame Keeper for From Slavery to Freedom, for Dedicated Service in Cultural Heritage Tourism, 2013; the PA Museums Presidents and S.K. Stevens Awards for 2014.”In addition to his work with cultural institutions, Jon is an Assistant Professor in Communications Media and the Game Design program at Fitchburg State University.