Or “How to master the constraints of space & time”
Continuing our articles series:
XR stands for eXtended reality. XR is also known as everything between our physical reality from augmented reality to full virtual reality. It is extending many capabilities of ours and will impact our private and work lives like hardly anything that we have seen in the past 20 years.
In the previous part of the article we have given a glimpse into how companies and their clients can save valuable time and cost for their visits by using immersive 360° VR video, overcoming the constraints of space and time. This technology allows companies, museums and cultural heritage sites to bring large or heavy objects and spaces right to the visitor through a VR viewer.
In this second part of the article we will explore how the Augmented reality technology can provide value for visitors and their hosts when the visitors are physically present for the industry site, museum or cultural heritage site visits.
As mentioned in the first part of this article, for the visit of an industrial site, you would be accompanied by a guide. At minimum he will be there for safety reasons, at best he will provide you a lasting impression on how great your hosts company is.
Though even if your tour guide is a perfect storyteller, it is highly likely that the visitor will not understand or memorize most of the visit, even though he may be impressed.
So why not supporting your guide by illustrating his speech with a 3D animation that is visually over-layered in augmented reality for the visitor on top of the process or machine your guide shows you?
There is a good reason why we say that a picture is worth 1.000 words.
And while a video may be worth 10.000 words, an interactive animation can eventually be worth 100.000 words.
Providing augmented tours, your guide would not only be able to better explain the process, but also why or how this process or machine is making a real difference in the quality of your product and why clients are best served when buying from this company. As through this experience the visitor will be able to memorize much more of his visit, he may even become your next evangelist.
Augmentations can make explaining impactful, understanding efficient and memorizing easy.
The same logic that applies to augmented industry site visits also applies to museums and cultural heritage sites.
How does XR enhance museum and cultural heritage site visits?
If you are visiting museums and cultural heritage sites, you will certainly have tried to understand more about the exhibition or place you visit by reading a guide book or even taking an audio guide. It is also likely that despite having made these efforts, you still do not understand much more of it and also do not remember much 10 minutes after the visit.
And if you did not make these efforts, the richest information provided to you about the paintings is often “Oil paint on Canvas, 1849”. This has the benefit of being minimalist, but does certainly not allow non-experts to enjoy and understand the work of an artist as much as he could. So how can this experience be enhanced using XR?
Let’s look at an example how ENCORE, the augmented reality platform of the company ARdictive supports Museums and cultural heritage sites expand their audience and improve visitors’ engagement using augmented reality.
ENCORE offers museums and heritage sites the possibility to easily augment spaces and objects by placing additional information, pictures, sounds, videos, holographic objects and characters to create a more exciting experience. They can either use their own digital assets or get them to be realized by content creators or purchase them on digital asset stores. Museums may even want to exhibit rare historic objects or writings in their digital form, keeping the original safe and well preserved.
More interesting for the quality of the mediation is that by giving the curator the means to add numerous audience specific augmented layers on top of the same exhibition, ENCORE allows to offer a great user-centric experience to different audience segments in a way that makes it more appealing and engaging for them.
For instance, instead of just showing a painting with the information “Oil on Canvas” the curator can add augmentations on top or around each physical painting to address the interest and level of expertise of each specific audience segment.
For an art lover a curator could add images of paintings and explanations that allow him to understand the influences that the painter has had or how his painting fits into a larger movement belonging to his epoch. The augmentations may also explain what challenges the painter tried to solve and in what state of mind he was. Having this information, the art lover now has references he will always be able to relate to and have a much richer appreciation of the art he sees and likes.
Now that the art lover has a deeper understanding of the matter, he may want to also see the painting with the augmentations destined to a more expert audience.
For the experts, the curator may have prepared augmentations that dissect the breakdown of the perspectives and proportions in the painting, insisting on the symbolic of why the light has been painted to come from a specific angle to give the whole painting its vibrancy.
Finally, the curator may have created an augmented layer for art historians, allowing them to appreciate the exhibition from a completely different angle.
Using this technology, the curator or the museum now has a wealth of possibilities of making one same exhibition far more compelling for a number of different audience segments, allowing them to expand their audiences and create even more vibrant exhibitions.
One could think that the use of these technologies is difficult and only reserved to technologists and experts. In reality, it is almost as easy as taking a photo with a smartphone. For a matter of fact, for augmenting his space, the curator will use a simple smart tablet like an iPad or even a smart phone, select the content and chose the location where he wants to place it, done. One more audience segment reached.
For the visitors it is as easy as using an audio guide, except that they will use tablets or smart glasses provided by the museum or use their own tablets or smartphones.
Even though this seems like technology of the future, this is already technology of today. It is a fantastic revolution that allows today to make history, culture and art accessible and more memorable to everyone.