Augmented reality (AR) is an emerging technology with the potential to transform learning. By digitally adding or removing information from the physical world, AR creates a sense that real and virtual objects coexist, and can enhance people’s interactions both with each other and with objects in the world.
Our AR technologies focus on supporting conceptual learning. This is a shift from the traditional role of a museum which has long been to preserve and communicate established knowledge through the authenticity of physical objects.
We explore how AR in museums will help engage the audience more deeply, more meaningfully and more authentically with the subjects at hand.
How do you provide context to an ancient object? How do you show how the artist actually created it 1000nds of years ago?
Science: technical details are usually limited to discussions in the scientific literature. Or occasionally presented as a separate chapter in an exhibition catalog.
But it is hard to present such information inside a (physical) exhibition. Here is why AR is a great solution:
1) There is no physical space for large panels with drawings and explanations. AR doesn't need any.
2) Most people don't have the patience to spend 10 minutes reading and looking at drawings. Usability studies show a drop off after 12 words in their attention span.
3) 65% of the brain is dedicated to processing visual information. AR is a purely visual tool to educate your audience. It is easy for our brains to absorb. People are focusing longer on the topic. And they will retain more information until long after the actual museum visit.
How do you provide context to an ancient Assyrian relief panel?
Science: Researchers used sophisticated surface scanning techniques to study its surface. Finding micro-fragments of paint, they were able to reconstruct its original colors.
How can you tell the color story of this relief to the general public?
Effective because it's visual: The AR app lets you scan the relief looking through the phone. It shows lost colors and other details lost in time.
Opens up institutional knowledge to the general public. And thus contributes to the mission of the museum. Because of its "stickiness" the educational experience has a more permanent impact on the visitor.
Science: MRI scans of an Egyptian mummy revealed what's inside the mummy without having to open it.
How do you tell their story to the general public?
Augmented Reality "X-rays". The visitor moves the app along the body of the mummy and sees "what's inside" as if looking through an X-ray machine.
In a respectful manner you can make the public aware of the actual "human inside".