Nov. 24: AR, VR, and Potential Futures of Digital Public History

Today we’ll look at some current, emerging, and experimental approaches to museums and digital public history. We’ll also take stock of what we have explored this semester and consider what directions public history might take in the future. Developers and designers need humanists to understand the current capabilities of emerging technologies, their future potential, and how we can harness them to tell stories,  share history, and build communities.

You have already had a small taste of augmented reality when we looked at digital games, now have a look through what others are doing with the medium and imagine what you could do with this in the future.

Start with a recent summary from Museum Next.

Read Chapter 1 of Alan Craig, Understanding Augmented Reality: Concepts and Applications (2013) (Requires UWO proxy) and explore the rest.

An example of AR in Museums  and 5 more from the Smithsonian Magazine.

Have a look through Seeing the Past with Computers, and in particular check out Shawn Graham et al’s work on audio augmented reality. 

Augmented sights and sounds has been the focus of most AR designers, but what about Haptic Augmented Reality? A team of researchers tried this out at the National Museum of Scotland. Read about their results: Mariza Dima, Linda Hurcombe, and Mark Wright, “Touching the Past: Haptic Augmented Reality for Museum Artifacts” (2014) (Access through OWL).

3D Modelling and Virtual Worlds

Researchers are using new technology to keep Holocaust testimonies alive.” How hologgrams are being used to preserve historical testimony for future generations. Read Maria Zalewska’s thoughts on “The Last Goodbye: Virtualizing Witness Testimonies of the Holocaust” (2020). (Access through Owl).

A decade ago, a group of scholars from the University of Calgary explored ways to connect people with the past using 3D models. Peter Dawson, Richard Levy, and Natasha Lyons, “‘Breaking the Fourth Wall’: 3D Virtual Worlds as Tools for Knowledge Repatriation in Archaeology” Journal of Social Archaeology, Vol. 11, No. 3, (2011): 387-402. (Access through OWL).

Lorena Gauthereau, Jessica Linker, Emma Slayton, Alex Wermer-Colan, address similar issues and help begin to bring the discussion up to date in “Immersive Pedagogy: Developing a Decolonial and Collaborative Framework for Teaching and Learning in 3D/VR/AR,” The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, No. 17, (2020).

Virtual Reality is finally becoming more user-friendly, and is finding a home in museums, according to The Verge. (An update from from Museum Next).Have a look at the MET’s VR Exhibit Small Wonders: The Virtual Experience, which was created for the AGO with 3D scans completed here in London at Sustainable Archaeology.

Explore some of the other technical readings on OWL exploring the introduction of new technologies into cultural heritage sites. What role do public historians play in these studies?

We’ll also play with some examples from Google Cardboard.

Finally, if you want to explore how to make your own VR, you can begin here.