Augmented Reality and Ancient Egyptian Skulls

Last Saturday, I visited “Digital Egypt: Museums of the Future at the Petrie Museum. Several displays using new technologies were added to the permanent collection to experiment new ways of exploring exhibitions, with the designers here to explain and help and gather feedbacks at the end of each experiment. Ipads, Kinect, Augmented Reality and more!

Tour of the Nile
A map of Egypt was displayed on the floor with several objects pictured along the Nil. With an iPad and a special app, you could focus on an object with your camera and when it was recognized, a 3D version popped on your screen, and you could resize and rotate it to look at every sides of it. And if you double taped on it, textual information were displayed.

I love new technologies in a real environment, because you are more easily immersed and touched by seeing “real” physical things but the digital installations allow you to access things you couldn’t otherwise.
So I think it could have been more engaging if we were scanning real objects and not pictures, but I loved the idea of being able to see behind the objects because that’s something you can not usually do in a museum. The size of the 3D objects was a bit frustrating because you couldn’t see the object in full screen (only maybe 1/4 of the screen),  I would have liked to be able to zoom on tiny details, and maybe instead of having only one big text (or maybe in addition to this general description), the text could have been cut, scattered and attached on different points of interest, so I would have to explore the object to have an information specific at what I was looking at.

The Life and Times of Inati
On a screen there was a animated guide through the life of Inati, and next to it was a turntable with a marker (in form of Inati). Looking at the marker through the camera of an iPad displayed a 3D image of Inati’s skull, and by stroking it, flesh layers could be added or removed. Rotating the head was possible by turning the turntable.

My favourite! It was really great to use, the interactions were really interesting because this is definitely not something you can do with real objects and you feel like you are taking part in the experiment.

Gesture Tracking station
By placing yourself in front of a Kinect and a projection screen, and moving your arms to control the projection, you could look at ancient objects.

It was great to be able to see the objects on a big scale and the only information were given by a voice so it was concise and direct. I would be interesting in seeing it in a permanent collection, to see how it could be integrated (sound, space).

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