Through the Loupe: Visitor engagement with a primarily text-based handheld AR application

Authors: Dr. Areti Damala, Merel van der Vaart

Date: September 2015

In: IEEE - Proceedings of the Digital Heritage Congress 2015, Granada.

This paper was presented at the 2015 Digital Heritage Congress in Granada, Spain. It describes a study that was carried out at the Allard Pierson Museum, using the Loupe prototype as a tool to provided visitors with a primarily text-based Augmented Reality experience.

Abstract: The use of Augmented Reality (AR) in a museum or heritage setting holds great potential. However, until now, introducing AR into their buildings has been prohibitively expensive for most museums. On the one hand, programming the AR application could not be done in-house and would be rather costly. Secondly, high-quality digital images, often used in AR installations, would be time consuming as well as being outsourced. With the arrival of several AR engines, creating the actual experience has become easy, relatively fast and cheap, meaning the costs and skills associated with content creation might be the prime reason for particularly small and medium sized museums to not engage with the use of AR. This begs the question: Can other, simpler, types of content, such as texts, also be used to create a valued AR interpretation tool? This paper will discuss a study that has made a first attempt to answering this question and also looked at the role AR can play in creating stronger engagement between visitor, object and information, as provided through the interpretation tool. The Loupe is a custom made handheld AR application that was designed and tested aspart of the meSch project. For this study, content, mainly consisting of text, was created for the Loupe at the Allard Pierson Museum. The tool was then tested with 22 participants who were asked to use the Loupe, either alone or together. Through questionnaires, observations and interviews, participants’ engagement with and response to the Loupe was analyzed. This paper discusses the findings of that study, focusing on the way the Loupe influenced the relationship between visitor and object, as well as the role of textual content as part of such an AR tool.