Exploring History: Reconstructing Heritage Objects for Exploration

Researchers at the University of Stuttgart (USTUTT), one of the technical partners in the meSch project, are working on an embedded multi-sensor digital system platform that supports non-technical curators, artists and designers in making their own adaptive smart objects for interactive exhibitions. In this blog post USTUTT briefly introduces two prototypes that they are currently working on. These might be included in this platform and in that way available for future users of the meSch platform to incorporate in their own exhibitions.

Technology supported exploration of damaged heritage objects

One of the challenges curators face is that some parts of exhibited objects or heritage sites may have been destroyed or damaged and lost their original shape or coloring. To allow visitors to experience the original shape and coloring, we developed two approaches that support this exploration of exhibited objects with technology.

Pointing History

This approach tracks the user’s finger while pointing at an exhibited object using a leap motion controller. Thus, people can explore an object by simply pointing at it. It can be used to enrich the exhibit in a variety of ways. For instance, the finger acts as a virtual camera navigating through the scene. On a screen next to the object, a high resolution image or virtual model of the object is shown. The user can change the perspective by pointing at different parts of the object. By moving the finger towards the exhibited object, the user can zoom-in to see more details and, likewise, zoom-out by moving the finger further away. If, for instance, the original object is damaged or partly broken, the original coloring may be of interest to visitors. The virtual model reflects the original shape with the original coloring and texture of the object. This way, visitors can imagine how the exhibited object used to look like at specific parts depending on where they are pointing.

Pointing-prototype

Pointing prototype

Interactive Torch

The Interactive Torch concept allows museum visitors to explore exhibits using an interaction device in the form of a torch. This device tracks the area the user is pointing at on a display by using a Wii Remote Control. By switching the device on, the area is digitally illuminated. The form-factor of a torch encourages visitors to use it as an exploratory tool and help to reduce the technical hurdles. Especially, cultural heritage sites such as caves or bunkers have lost parts of their history (e.g., cave paintings or the furniture in bunkers). These parts can be visualized again as soon as the user points at the specific position. This can be done by using projection of the torch`s spotlight. In contrast to a normal torch, the spotlight does not only illuminate the environment but also projects the content on the surfaces (e.g., the painting on the cave`s wall).

Interactive-torch-prototype

Interactive torch prototype

Next steps

The next steps include the evaluation of the prototypes at one of our meSch partner museums.

More information

More about the platform and some of its components USTUTT is currently working on, will be described in an additional blog post that will be published soon.