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Augmented Reality and Heritage Interpretation

It’s always exciting to see a technology that genuinely is a game changer and actually delivers. Whether it’s moving your screen over the ruins of Middleham castle to see what it looked like in all its glory, seeing a full banquet in flow at Hampton Court Palace or perhaps, on a slightly more gory note, having a living history lesson at the Tower of London…

Technology in the home, be it 3D TV or gaming technology has raised expectations – and the heritage and museum sector should embrace what’s going on in the wider entertainment sector and adapt accordingly to remain relevant and develop new audiences.

Good content should remain at the core of engaging heritage interpretation and technology should not be a replacement for this. Used effectively though, augmented reality and other interactive media channels provide a platform for ‘discovery based learning’ and a truly immersive visitor experience; one that will ultimately increase visitor numbers and encourage repeat visits.

In 2011, for example, The Vindolanda Trust in the North East of England commissioned an exciting 3D film for its Roman Army museum depicting the history of Roman life on Hadrian’s Wall. The film was extremely well received by the public and, in its opening two months, the museum experienced a soar in visitor numbers by 40%. Furthermore, there were positive wider reaching effects on the region’s economy, with an increase in overnight visitors to the area.

The cost of technology can be a challenge in the current economic climate. Nevertheless, cutting edge technology projects can attract funding from a variety of sources. For instance, they provide a great opportunity for companies focusing on their corporate social responsibility schemes to provide sponsorship.

In 2012 Peel Heritage will be creating Augmented Reality test rooms at leading museums in the UK and producing augmented reality content for clients.

The more the museum and heritage sector can do to remain relevant, engage new audiences and innovate, the more successful ventures will become. We firmly believe augmented reality is a tool that will enable this to happen.

For more information, visit our augmented reality development page.

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