Virtual Heritage - Adding culture to the Metaverse

As a person who is intrigued by all the countries and cultures of the world, I love the progress that is being made for the Metaverse with virtual heritage.

Click on picture for example
Imagine a day in the near future, you just arrived on vacation at the Roma (Rome) train station and are heading down the road outside to the Colosseum. You see the ruin as you walk towards it, but then you decide to see what it looked like around 90 AD. Out comes your mobile computing device (cell phone camera, IPhone, PDA, or A.R. shades) and now you are looking at the Colosseum as it was back in the ancient days. You now access text, videos, and websites to learn more about it. You take a seat, and send a text to a friend online with an invitation to join you. Suddenly you see his avatar appear, armed up in traditional gear, and ready to fight. Looks like there's going to be a gladiator fight in the Colosseum again, this time across realities.

A scenario like this is closer than you think. Virtual Heritage is a mix of cultural heritage with information/communication technologies. Governments are spending serious resources to preserve their country's history(e.g. Sao Paulo-Brasil, Machu Picchu-Peru). Ancient ruins and artifacts are being re-created in 3D or laser scanned to archive and share with any web user. Universities and others are developing a variety of applications (mixed reality, educational, and gaming) with this 3D data. Some earlier virtual heritage Metaverse adopters:

The Fraunhofer Institute, a member of the Web3d Consortium, is working on ARCHEOGUIDE
(Augmented Reality based Cultural Heritage On-site GUIDE). From the ARCHEOGUIDE website:The "ARCHEOGUIDE project intends to provide new approaches for accessing information at cultural heritage sites in a compelling, user-friendly way through the development of a system based on advanced IT including augmented reality, 3D-visualization, mobile computing, and multi-modal interaction techniques. The system will be tried out in one major European cultural heritage site. In this site particular emphasis will be given to virtual reconstruction of the remains.

The ARCHEOGUIDE system will address the requirements of a wide user selection that includes cultural site visitors, cultural site managers, researchers, and content creators. Cultural site visitors will be provided with a see-through Head-Mounted Display (HMD), earphone, and mobile computing equipment. A tracking system will determine the location of the visitor within the site. Based on the visitor’s profile and his position, audio and visual information will be presented to guide and allow him/her to gain more insight into relevant aspects of the site." There is an example of this in my SIGGRAPH video.

Rome Reborn - is an international project launched in 1996 at UCLA and since 2004 based at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH).

The model shows the city as it appeared in 320 AD and was created by dozens of students and scholars from many universities in Europe and the USA.

CAST (The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies) at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville is another bringing more virtual heritage data to the Metaverse. Fred Limp, Malcolm Williamson, and the team are wonderful supporters of the web3D open standard and are constantly working on re-creating/scanning projects around the globe. Earlier this year scanning in Egypt and just last month they launched the Virtual Hampson Museum with 3D artifacts one can view in VRML (I am talking with them now about upgrading to X3D).


I look forward to the day when I can experience a mixed reality visit to anytime, place, and civilization. A thousand thanks to all those bringing this to reality through the Metaverse.

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