Thursday, 3 November 2016

AUGMENTED REALITY IN MUSEUMS: DINOSAURS, COLOURING BOOKS AND PAINTINGS, OH MY!

MUSEUM INNOVATIONS

BY: CASSY KIST

It has officially been over a month since Nuit Blanche and now that we are halfway through the term I think it is an excellent time for reflection! One art piece I found innovative and intriguing was "The Merging" on display at OCAD University.


THE MERGING



This 2D art mural by Nicola Verato is brought to life using an app designed by SE3D interactive, which could be downloaded onto your smartphone or used on the ipads that the University provided. 

By focusing the ipad on the painting the image is stirred into movement and viewers can move through and look around what appears to be a 3D room. This gave the painting depth, merging outsiders with a virtual world.

What would happen if museums used similar augmented reality applications to add context, movement, sound and or even texture to artefacts?
Your phone or ipad would become a story telling treasure chest.

Museums are already stretching their virtual reality muscles; the Smithsonian has an app available for their Skin and Bone Hall at the ANHM. By downloading the app and using the exhibit's trigger images, visitors can see how the skeletons of animals and fish would have looked in the flesh. 

AMNH Bone Hall. Source
The Royal Ontario Museum has also been experimenting with augmented reality. If you visit the museum today make sure to check out their fossilised T-Rex which has a quirky modification. A stationary ipad brings the T-rex to life with whom you can then take a selfie!

At the Royal Ontario Museum. Source
I for one would love to enter the Egyptian tomb at the ROM and be able to see, using augmented reality, how it might have looked centuries ago when the doors were first sealed.

Egyptian Tomb at the ROM. Source.
Many big corporations are adopting and creating augmented reality apps to facilitate new experiences. Disney for one, is creating an app that animates colouring pages. As an individual colours a paper page, a 3D character comes to life on an ipad - even with movement and texture.
This has made me consider the possibility of museums adding virtual reality components to portions of their exhibit catalogues.

 For instance, imagine a catalogue in which artefacts can be popped into 3D using an ipad or smartphone and examined from all angles. This would change the game of accessibility but also possession; how would it feel to examine a virtual piece in your own home?
Individuals who tested the Disney colouring pages said they felt more connected to the virtual characters. Could 3D apps connect museum goers and catalogue pursuers with the objects and stories therein? 

Do I secretly want one of these for mid-semester stress relief? Yes, yes I do. 



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