A ruined temple, ancient frescos and even a long-dead king have been brought to life by a “visual time machine” developed by European researchers.
The Palace of Venaria near Turin, Italy, and Winchester Castle in the United Kingdom have already benefited from the technology, which combines augmented reality (AR) content with location awareness on mobile devices to give visitors to historic and cultural sites a deeper, richer and more enjoyable experience. Other places of interest are also set for a virtual renaissance in the near future with a commercial version of the system being developed to run on smart phones.
Augmented reality allows people to see and discover much more than they would normally be able to by overlaying information and images in real time on photos and video taken using a mobile device. Innovative software matches the image being viewed with suitable AR content stored on a central server.
“They can look at a historic site and, by taking a photo or viewing it through the camera on their mobile device, be able to access much more information about it,” explains Luke Speller, a senior researcher at BMT in the United Kingdom who oversaw development of the technology.
“They are even able to visualise, in real time, how it looked at different stages in history,” he adds. The AR system is one component of a comprehensive mobile information platform for tourists developed in the EU-funded iTacitus project, which also created location-based services and smart itinerary-generating software to help users get the most out of any trip.
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