Practical Augmented Visualization on Handheld Devices for Cultural Heritage

Giovanni Murru, Marco Fratarcangeli and Tommaso Empler (Sapienza University of Rome)

We present a framework for the interactive 3D visualization of archaeological sites on handheld devices using fast augmented reality techniques. The user interface allows for the ubiquitous, personalized and context-aware browsing of complex digital contents, such like 3D models and videos.

The system 1) tracks and locates the real environment scenes based on predefined images already deposited in the system, 2) displays the virtual information and 3) aligns and superimposes the virtual data on to the real environment scenes. The framework implements context-aware tracking, 3D alignment and visualization of graphical models at interactive rate. Using this framework, the user is free to roam around archaeological sites using not-invasive and already in use devices such as modern smartphones and tablets. The framework is composed by free, cross-platform software modules, making it easier to reproduce.

Our framework allows for visualizing different historical versions of an ancient artifact directly where it was placed originally. The user points the camera of the device towards the on-site ruins, the software tracks the video feed and superimpose an interactive virtual 3D model of the artifact.

Some of the most meaningful parts of the model can be selected and magnified to be observed in detail. Special areas of the user interface are devised as 3D video buttons embedded into the model. The user can watch the related video together with the 3D model, or in full-screen mode.

The applicability of the framework is tested by providing an augmented view of the Ancient Forum of Nerva, a part of the Imperial forums in the Roman Empire age. The 3D model has been built according to the information acquired from previous archaeological studies.

Video by Doug Rocks-Macqueen, originally posted on his blog.

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