The Speaking Celt

Early last year, as a 3D artist, software developer, and founder, I had a brainstorming meeting with Florian Knopp, the director of the Museum of Celtic Heritage in Hallein near Salzburg, Austria and with Barbara Tober, the Museum education officer, and we were thinking of how to use Augmented Reality within a museum. We came up with the following idea: How cool would it be, if it was possible to place a “Celtic” avatar into the display case and let him explain the artifacts around him?

Fortunately, we were all brave enough to try it out and after 6 month of designing, crafting, writing scripts, recording actors, animating, and coding, the app “The Speaking Celt” was ready and available for everybody in the app stores (iOS and Android).

The “Speaking Celt” is a free companion app for visitors to the Museum of Celtic Heritage. Museum visitors use their own smartphones (or borrow an iPad at the reception desk) and download the app from the app store (iOS, Android). However it is not a regular museum app:

There are “targets”, all around the museum within the display cases, but also in front of the museum. These are basically round images, that signal to the user that there is a 3D Celtic avatar ready to be discovered. When the user holds the camera image of the app on top of the target, a Celtic avatar appears and explains the artifact around him!

Please see the following movie:

Finally we ended up with 2 avatars (a lord, and a warrior), on 7 different stations within and in front of the museum. The target in front of the museum has a diameter of 1m and the Celtic warrior that can be seen in Augmented Reality guarding the museum is about 1.60m.

The initial phase was completed by June 2016 and over the Summer we did an extensive test with visitors. Our solution works very well both technically and educationally and proofed to be an excellent way transfer knowledge to a broader audience. Regarding technology, it was a difficult task to optimize the 3D models and animations such that we can support most if not all available smartphones (Android 4.0 and up; iPhone 4 and up).

The next step in this project will be a virtual Celtic house (completed by June 1, 2017). Users will be able to step right into the house and see the interior, including the Celtic lord (eating, sleeping, working on his weapons – depending on the daytime).