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Augmented and Virtual Reality

LGfL has worked with virtual and augmented-reality experts at Computeam Ltd to create a series of artefacts and experiences that complement this learning resource by bringing it to life in a way that is otherwise unimaginable.

You will find references to these AR and VR objects within different sections of the resource, and LGfL encourages teachers to have a go and if you not have the time, why not ask students to try them out at home and then show you/their classmates!

The best way to understand AR and VR is to experience it, but if you would first like to see videos of the artefacts in action, click on the video tab.

If you are ready to augment your Cold War reality now with AR, the next tabs help you do just that as quickly and as easily as possible: download a trigger from the next tab, download either the mobile app or PC app from the following tabs, and away you go. If you would like to experience the nuclear blast simulation, then you need to download the app (link needed) and use a mobile device in suitable headset. You can use Google Cardboard technology to transform your mobile device into a 3D viewer. Purchase of a compatible viewer is required; available for under £10 in cardboard and under £20 in more durable plastic.

Examples given hear are not official recommendations; always check for compatibility with your device and ensure that the device has google cardboard settings QR code on it. For a fully immersive effect, be sure to listen to the sound by using your phone’s headphones.

  • Q1: What is augmented reality?
  • A1: Augmented reality has been around for quite a while. Using your tablet or smartphone and now, our experimental Windows desktop application, a 3D model, a video or image is overlaid on a trigger image or scene that you view through the device camera / webcam.
  • Q2: Will the trigger images only work in colour?
  • A2: The images will work in black and white and have been tested down to a 3rd level photocopy (a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy) although results will vary based on the quality of your photocopier and printer.
  • Q3: Will the trigger images only work as a printout?
  • A4: You can use the trigger images in any way you like. Let pupils use them in their work or integrate them into your own resources. The trigger images will also work from a screen, but be aware that screens are shiny, and reflections can disrupt the trigger image and therefore the augmented-reality event.
  • Q4: What tablet / device will the app run on?
  • A5: The app runs on iOS and Android. New to this resource is a Windows desktop application.
  • Q5: Will the desktop app work with my webcam?
  • A5: There are a huge range of webcams available and it is not possible to test the app with each one. However, a webcam that interfaces with Windows natively without needing special software is likely to work.
  • Q6: Will the desktop app work on a Mac?
  • A6: Unfortunately the desktop app is only available for Windows based PCs at this time.
  • Q7: Should I laminate the images?
  • A7: We don't recommend laminating them. They will work but reflections can cause issues and prevent the augmented reality object appearing.
  • Q8: Are there restrictions on using the images?
  • A8: We want you to enjoy using these materials and to have the flexibility to copy, cut up and use in any way you like (we'd love to hear what you do with it). We just ask that you respect our licence arrangements and not share them outside your school.
TU-95 (Bear)

The Cold War ActiveLens app is available for iOS and Android platforms for all devices with a rear-facing camera. Additionally a Windows desktop application is available for use with a webcam.

To use, point the camera at any trigger image to experience the augmented reality object (a model, video, audio, animation or combination).


Our iOS app is compatible with iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air 1/2 & iPad Mini Retina. We recommend that you use the latest device where possible to ensure the best experience with the app.

Download on the App Store


Our Android app is compatible with the majority of Android smartphones and tablets with a rear-facing camera and 1GB RAM. We recommend using a recent device to ensure the best experience with the ActiveLens app.

Get it on Google play

Our new Windows desktop application is a new approach to augmented reality that brings the power of the desktop to AR. The application will run on Windows 7, 8 and 10. It will utilise built in webcams but is designed to be used with a connected webcam.

AR trigger

How to use the Desktop App

Click here to download the Windows desktop application

The application can be installed on any Windows based PC running Windows 7.0 and above. To install on a school desktop or laptop, it is likely that you will need administrator privileges. Once downloaded, double click on the installer. The application will be installed and a ‘Program Menu’ and desktop shortcut will be created.

To run, double click on the desktop icon ‘Cold War AR’ or find the shortcut in ‘My Programs > LGfL> Cold War AR’. The application will open, initiate the webcam then go full screen. Click on the ‘Cold War’ icon to enter the full AR experience. Point your webcam at a trigger image to see the AR (augmented reality) object.

AR trigger

Webcam Mirroring

Some webcams may be set up to provide a mirror image (as if you are sitting in front of a mirror). This will invert the images and they will not trigger the AR. If your webcam is in mirror mode, click on the ‘?’ icon in the bottom right of the screen. This will give you the option to flip the camera out of mirror mode:

A detailed reconstruction of a section of the Berlin Wall circa 1980
3D Model of a 1963 'Family Fallout Shelter'
Winston Churchill's 'Sinews of Peace' speech, 5th March 1946
The Iron Curtain rises on the post war map of Europe
See what a nuclear detonation at Westminster would look like
TU-95 (Bear) flies into UK airspace and is intercepted by an Electric Lightning
President John F Kennedy ‘Ich bin eine Berliner’ Speech, June 26th 1963
President Ronald Reagan 'tear down this wall' speech, 12th June 1987
T-100 spy camera, was built into various objects including cigarette lighters
USS Skate, the first American submarine to break though the ice at the North Pole
Lockheed U2 reconnaissance photos taken in 1962