Real and virtual elements merging before the visitor's eyes

Emerging technologies build new levels of interaction to interpret cultural artifacts and historical locations

Augmented reality (AR) is the superposition of digitally generated graphics onto real-time views of the world with technologies now commonly embedded in smartphones and tablets, such as a digital camera, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, and GPS. Virtual Reality (VR) describes an immersive experience where the surrounding environment is generated digitally through dedicated headsets.

Both technologies’ applications are expanding and evolving. AR differs from VR when it includes the physical surroundings in the experience; while VR allows for the user to immerse in a digital environment, AR overlays digital components around the user's real environment.

Augmented Reality allows going beyond what is immediately visible, to discover virtual content through the screens of smartphones and tablets

AR applications in museums, historical sites and traveling exhibits include connecting virtual layers of information to graphic material. Texts and maps, historical photographs, videos, and even interactive virtual artifacts can be triggered by markers embedded in printed ads and advertisement banners, allowing the content to be experienced anywhere, in schools, at home, or in the streets.

Employing AR and VR in cultural heritage projects will greatly enhance cultural resource management efforts

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The significant development of AR and VR over the last years will enable the technology to provide unforgettable experiences for visitors of museums and cultural institutions. AR offers opportunities to digitally rebuild vanished and extant historic artifacts and structures for visitors to explore and learn.

The application goes beyond simple visual decoding, enabling interacting with touchable points on the screen to reveal added information, images, audio and video to enrich the topic.

AR and VR are invaluable additions to the technology toolset for cultural projects.