Context-Aware Augmented Reality Experiences In and Beyond the Museum

Mario Romero Vega, PhD, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS)KTH – Royal Institute of Technology

What is the research project about?
“We are investigating how digital techniques such as virtual and augmented reality can be used within the tourism industry to elevate a visitor’s experience of an attraction or location.”

What will you be doing?
The project has two parts: In one of them we develop a mobile app with which a normal bus trip on the public transport in Stockholm is turned into a guided tour in time and space. The other one is a collaboration with the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities where we investigate how we, with the aid of an app, can heighten the experience of two thousand year old statues from Cyprus that are in the museum collections.”

What will this digitalised journey be like?
Once you have downloaded the app to your phone you can take pictures through the window of buildings and places you pass on the bus. The app will recognise the picture and show information about the motif on your phone. The technical platform behind the app is full of information about e.g. history, architecture and other facts. You are given the opportunity to experience a guided tour – without a physical guide. The purpose is for you to get increased knowledge and more of a feel for the places you go past on the bus. The long-term idea is for everyone to be able to contribute their own information about the places, which other visitors can experience.”

How will the digital technique be used when visiting the museum?
The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities, which is part of the National Museums of World Culture has a wonderful collection of unique statues from Aija Irini on Cyprus. The history of the two thousand year old objects are described in texts on the wall, but few people read it. We want to increase awareness and explain why people did what they did two thousand years ago.”

“We are developing an app where the visitor creates and designs their own virtual statue which can then be placed on a virtual island, along with the ancient statues. During the process a historical explanation is given as to why they were created, the idea behind the placement of them and other facts. With the aid of VR headsets at the museum, the visitor can see the entire island in 3D with all the statues, their own included. Afterwards the visitor can go into the app at any point and see what the island looked like at their visit. It is a playful way of discovering the ancient culture of Cyprus, not least for children.”

What are your challenges?
There are several technical challenges in working out the infrastructure. We also have social challenges to explore such as the view from the bus being obstructed and that you may not be able to point a mobile camera at other people.”

How can companies in the tourism industry benefit from this research?
The AR and VR technology may be of great significance to the tourism industry in that it can contribute to heightening the experience of a place or attraction. In future there may also be opportunities for individual companies to create and add their own information on the technical platform. It will be a new opportunity for marketing.”

Participating researchers and project members
KTH:

Mario Romero (principal investigator), Björn Thuresson (co-investigator), Mattias Höjer (co-investigator), Yinglai Xu (research engineer), Björn Englesson (research engineer)
The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities:
Johanna Berg (co-investigator), Fredrik Helander (co-investigator)
Stockholm Transport Museum:
Jenny Stenbeck (co-investigator), Christoffer Sandahl (co-investigator – no longer with the museum)
Stockholm City Museum:
Hans Öjmyr (collaborator)

Collaboration parties
The project is a collaboration between VIC (Visualization Studio) at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, City of Stockholm, Public Transport within Stockholm County Council, Stockholm City Museum, Stockholm Transport Museum and the National Museums of World Culture (Museum of Ethnography, Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities and Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities).

Project facts

Project

Context-Aware Augmented Reality Experiences In and Beyond the Museum

Research organization

KTH – Royal Institute of Technology

Project Manager

Mario Romero Vega

Period

Oct 2016 – Sep 2018

Amount

SEK 1,700,000

Mario Romero Vega

Projektledare

Foto: Andreas Bergsten