Beacon tracking and Augmented Reality in a historical context
Intertisement developed an interactive application allowing visitors to experience a historical exhibition in a new and exciting way
For a number of years, Intertisement and the Museum of Southwest Jutland have been collaborating on exploring new technologies capable of supporting and enhancing the experience of visitors interacting with the historical exhibitions.
An ongoing project involving the improvement of the museum “Quedens Gaard”, located in Ribe, resulted in this location being chosen as an ideal place to let visitors explore the Renaissance era buildings and artefacts in a new and exciting manner.
The goal of this initial version of the visualization platform was to support the PHD thesis of Mikkel Kirkedahl Lysholm Nielsen, Aalborg University Esbjerg. Data acquisition for the thesis involved hands-on testing by a range of participants as well as subsequent interviews to uncover details about the experience of each individual.
Early on, it was evident that the recent advances in low energy Bluetooth beacon technology provided an excellent opportunity to acquire an accurate estimation of the current position of a compatible smart device as well as the ability to act like a trigger for the desired functionality at that specific location. The app running on a smart device will alert the user when in the presence of a nearby beacon and provide instant access to the associated content.
Intertisements’ prior experience within the field of Augmented Reality (AR) and 3D-visualization made the utilization of these technologies a natural choice. This would additionally provide added value for the end users, making it possible to visualize large or fragile historical objects which would otherwise be unfeasible to exhibit. Additionally, objects not available at the premises in a physical form could be recreated in 3D and still give users a hands-on experience by interacting with a smart device.
Intertisement collaborated with the startup company Emplate ApS, who provided a flexible framework for beacon administration and content management, which will allow future maintenance of the system to be performed by the museum’s own staff.
During development, the framework provided by Emplate was combined with a native iOS integration of Intertisement’s AR- and 3D-library allowing fully integrated content switching between elements containing basic media types such as text, images and video as well as AR-scenes and interactive 3D-visualization.
In terms of content, Intertisement produced an AR-visualization of coins from the era based on marker based tracking. This provided an interactive physics based animation of coins falling onto the marker as well as an opportunity for the visitors to closely examine the 3D-model in an integrated model viewer.
Furthermore, a merchant ship from the historical time period was positioned in the nearby harbor based on markerless tracking technology utilizing the GPS, compass and gyroscope of the smart device. Intertisement was responsible for customizing the 3D-model, creating textures and materials, as well as implementing the markerless tracking features.
A 3D-model visualizing the original half-timbered gable of a historical building was modelled from scratch, textured and presented using an integrated 3D-viewer, thereby allowing the user to make a direct comparison when standing in front of the real building.
In addition to the content developed by Intertisement, a range of additional information in the form of images, text and video clips provided the user with a proper historical context for each interactive location at the museum.
In the future, we hope to be able to collaborate on establishing a more permanent installation, publicly available to all visitors, who will be able to use their own smart devices to interact with the content.
We are happy to announce that this app project under the title of “Augmenting the Historic City: Trade and Merchants’ Life in Ribe”, received the prestigious Gold MUSE Award in the category of Games and Augmented Reality.
The award is given “in Recognition of the Highest Standards of Excellence In the Use of Media and Technology”. The 27th annual MUSE award ceremony was held in Washington DC on May 26th 2016 where Mikkel Kirkedahl Lysholm Nielsen was present to receive the award on stage. The award is shared between the Museum of Southwest Jutland, Aalborg University and Intertisement ApS. We are honored to receive this recognition of our common efforts to utilize new technology to create exciting and educational experiences.