Astoria Park Augmented Reality Tree Ecology

Knowledge is the first step towards change, and there's no better way to learn than by experiencing. With an augmented reality project in the park, curious minds will be attracted out of the home and into community meeting spaces while learning about why trees truly matter to our ecosystem. 



  • An educational Augmented Reality App to interact with select trees in Astoria Park that contain corresponding QR codes within NYC Parks icons. The app will illustrate a die cut of each tree that includes educational information about its age, features, species and importance related to environmental sustainability.

  • In dedicated areas, visitors can have the opportunity to interact with a virtual message board by carving virtual notes into the tree that can be forwarded to friends along with directions to download an app and unlock their message. Users will also be directed towards actionable steps on improving environmental conditions and links to take action.

  • Features: Vintage Photography, Tree Growth Animations, Social Media Interaction, NYC Parks Info


  • Spring 2019


  • The featured data helps influence factors relevant to an urban ecology system such as real estate values, air quality and flooding estimates. (additional tree facts below)

  • Trees reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and are needed to combat climate change

  • Information is retained at a 90% greater rate when presented visually and through physical interaction via Augmented Reality.


  • Production by The Glimpse Group and Astoria Park volunteers

  • Financed through grants, donations, sponsorships, crowdsourcing and Kickstarter campaigns

ADD'l Notes:

  • Information tallied from the 2015 NYC Parks tree survey can be incorporated for a richer experience.

  • APA has experts in forestry and GIS designers who can perform professional field survey measurements to properly gather data and launch an associated web-based GIS-type interactive map feature.

  • NYRR Mile Markers are approved to be added to the Park, which sets a precedent for our similar QR code placement goals and adds a possibility for a wayfinding AR component

  • NYC Parks intends to add more wayfinding guides to Astoria Park and an augmented reality could enhance these goals

  • Astoria Park has been designated as one of New York City's five Anchor Parks, and is set to receive $30m of improvements over the next few years. The potential exists for additional immersive media projects in the future.

Tree Characteristics

  • Each tree ring represents one-year, a complete cycle of seasons.

  • New growth in trees occurs in cell layers near the bark.

  • A scar may indicate that a tree lived through a fire, an infestation of insects, or perhaps had a disease.

  • A collection of wide tree rings signifies a rainy season when plenty of growth took place.

  • Thin tree rings indicate a period of drought when the tree's growth was slowed by receiving less water

  • Light colored tree rings have large cells that indicate a large period of growth.

  • Dark colored tree rings have smaller cells and reflect a time when the tree's growth slowed down.

  • Neighboring trees can compete with each other for the vital elements of sunlight and water.

Social Benefits 

  • Trees provide oxygen, improve air quality, control climate levels, conserve water, preserve soil, and support wildlife.

  • City trees create a wind barrier and deflect sunlight reducing the heat island effect caused by pavement and commercial buildings.

  • Trees combat air pollution that leads to asthma, coughing, headaches, respiratory and heart disease, and cancer

  • During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide (CO2) and produce the oxygen we breathe.

  • Trees filter air by removing dust and absorbing other pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. After trees intercept unhealthy particles, rain washes them to the ground.

  • Trees absorb and store rainwater which reduce runoff and sediment deposit after storms and prevent the transport of chemicals into streams and prevents flooding.

  • Trees lower the air temperature and reduce the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide.

  • Far reaching roots hold soil in place and fight erosion.

  • Fallen leaves make excellent compost that enriches soil. NYC Parks annually host Christmas Tree recycling events citywide

  • 99% of real estate appraisers concurred that landscaping enhances the sales appeal of real estate.