Amazon is helping to power a new app which offers virtual tours of the White House as well as a unique experience that will match a user’s selfie with the president or first lady whom that person most resembles.
The free mobile app, called White House Experience, is from the White House Historical Association and is running on a platform from Cuseum, a company which builds tools to enhance visitor engagement at cultural institutions.
With support from Amazon Web Services, it’s the first time that virtual educational tours of the White House and surrounding President’s Neighborhood have been offered. There are three separate tour experiences both for users who visit the White House in person and those who do it from afar.
The WHHA has published a White House Guidebook since 1962, when originally inspired by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
“This app is the 21st century evolution of the Guidebook, now in its 24th edition,” said Stewart McLaurin, president of the association, in a news release. “This state-of-the-art technology tool will increase public access and share the rooms and history of the White House across the country and around the world.”
If you’ve ever been curious about which president or first lady you might look the most like, a selfie can be matched against portraits in the White House collection to provide the answer. The feature relies on Amazon Rekognition, a deep learning-based image and video analysis tool.
“We’re thrilled to collaborate with the White House Historical Association to digitize the history of the White House, giving individuals the opportunity to learn about and interact with that content,” said Teresa Carlson, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector at Amazon Web Services. “It’s important to find ways to make our nation’s history more accessible to everyone — particularly students — so that they can experience the White House from anywhere in the world. I’m both humbled and proud that at Amazon Web Services, we have the tools that organizations can use to deliver these kinds of experiences to educators, students, and the general public.”
The app tours provide information on everything from furnishings and decorative arts within various rooms to significant points of interest in the neighborhood around the White House. Here are more details from the WHHA:
- Explore the Virtual White House: Includes the East Wing, Family Theater, Library, Vermeil Room, China Room, Diplomatic Reception Room, Map Room, State Floor and the famous rooms of the West Wing including the Oval Office, Cabinet Room and Press Room. The tour also includes several rooms on the upper floors of the residence including the Lincoln Bedroom, the Queen’s Bedroom, the President’s Dining Room and the Treaty Room. Users can take this tour from afar.
- White House Neighborhood Walking Tour: A walking tour of the neighborhood surrounding the White House that includes stops at historic landmarks and buildings such as Decatur House, Lafayette Square, St. John’s Church, Treasury Building, North Lawn, Blair House, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, South Lawn and Ellipse, and the White House Visitor Center. Visitors in Washington, D.C., are offered turn-by-turn navigation to the featured sites.
- White House Companion Tour: A room-by-room guide of the White House to accompany those on an in-person tour.
First Lady Melania Trump thanked Amazon, Cuseum and the WHHA for their “creative and innovative collaboration” in designing the app.
“Whether people are visiting in-person or virtually, this new feature offers a chance for everyone to see many of the mansion’s wonderful and historic rooms,” Trump said.