Denoting, Personalising and Publishing: Adaptive Augmented Reality (A2R) as a new interpretation medium for the museum visit

Areti Damala, UK , Isabelle Astic, France, Roger McKinley, UK

The construction of meaning in the museum environment is one of the most challenging and least understood aspects of the museum visit. This article explores how the new concept of Adaptive Augmented Reality (A2R) could shed light and inform the process of meaning making within the context of a cultural visit.

Augmented Reality (AR) technologies provide by definition the possibility to use the real, surrounding museum environment as experienced by each and single visitor in real time, as a canvas for the interweaving, presentation and communication of multifaceted but structured multimedia narratives and interpretation materials with which the visitor can interact using mobile or immersive AR displays. AR thus becomes a powerful ally both for the spatial navigation and orientation in the complex museum space as well as for the intellectual navigation and augmentation of the museum artifacts with personalized learning resources. However, the inevitable emphasis of AR to the visitors’ visual perceptive channels tends to ignore the fact that though museum artifacts can be approached and understood by the visitors through factual information, they are also invested with emotional significance.

The European ARtSENSE project involves researchers, Cultural Heritage (CH) professionals and artists and regroups three CH institutions for which an A2R guide is implemented: The National Museum of Decorative Arts, in Madrid, Spain, the Musée des arts et métiers in Paris, France and the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool, UK.

A2R proposes a new approach and a new generation of Augmented Reality guides for the museum visit: Through a combined use of three different types of sensors, visual sensors, acoustic sensors and biosensors, A2R sets out to identify and support not only the visual but also the affective experience of the visitor so as to structure and shape the museum visiting experience according to each single visitor’s interests and needs.

This contribution focuses on the methodology employed for the creation of the A2R narratives for all three CH institutions based on an approach featuring a process consisting of three steps: Denoting (or annotating), personalising and publishing. Denoting tools developed in the project assist in the annotation and the augmentation of the artifacts in the collections in a new way that develops a systemic approach to content creation and, by default creates a shared and semantic approach to collating, preparing and annotating objects that can be simultaneously easily managed, updated and shared by individual institutions. Personalising tools are intrinsically related and made possible through the use of visual sensors (including eye-tracking), acoustic sensors and biosensors. They detect the level of interest and engagement of the visitor and adapt this prepared content according to the individual visitor’s needs. Finally, publishing tools will target the creation of a database of visitor multimedia learning experience as delivered through the ARtSense wearable audio and visual equipment and made available through museum websites, social media sites and the ARtSense equipment itself.