TravelAR Slovenia - cultural heritage visitor experiences
The TravelAR Slovenia project centers around developing the local and regional tourist offer by creating captivating visitor experiences, with cultural heritage at the basis of this offer. New technology can be used to develop exactly such experiences. TravelAR does it with Augmented Reality. This novel technology is exciting, visualizes, contextualizes, adds playful educational elements, and interaction. These are all elements that engage, captivate and activate users. The TravelAR Slovenia application and experiences enable towns and regions to attract new target groups and control the visitor flow. The driving force behind the development of the TravelAR Slovenia project is the community itself. TravelAR is a concept that empowers these communities to develop an innovative tool, based on novel technology by themselves and for themselves. Cultural Heritage is the common thread throughout the TravelAR Slovenia project. Each town develops their own Augmented Reality visitor experiences, with at its basis local and regional cultural heritage. On a wider scale all these TravelAR Slovenia locations will form an Augmented Reality heritage trail throughout Slovenia. With TravelAR we present, preserve and restore this cultural heritage and bring these locations and stories back to life in a dynamic, playful and exciting way. Besides presenting local and regional cultural heritage the project also contributes to the preservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Physical cultural heritage is brought back to life by the participants, who create detailed 3D models of the locations, objects and buildings for the TravelAR experiences, based on thoroughly researched historical data. The participants are actively shaping a tourist visitor experience that puts their town on the map. Intangible heritage such as stories and songs (their context and relevance) are lost or watered down over the course of years. This is preserved by making it part of the TravelAR visitor experience’s interactive narrative and presenting these stories, songs and even locations in an immersive and captivating way. By approaching it like a thread, guiding visitors through the history of a town, and adding playful educational elements, this intangible heritage will be passed on to new generations. Community is the key during this project, especially with regards to the research, the construction of narratives and the actual 3D content creation. The TravelAR Slovenia project is a community-driven co-creation project based on the principle ‘for the people, by the people’. It is of great importance to stimulate the participants, and in a broader sense the community, to take ownership of the project and the TravelAR visitor experiences that form an innovative and thrilling tourist adventure in their towns. The TravelAR Slovenia project kicks-off in every town with 3-months of workshops 3D modeling with Autodesk Maya software. Anyone who is interested in participating in the project can attend these. The participants get the necessary skills and competences to 3D model, animate, and reconstruct their local cultural heritage highlights. Besides learning how to create 3D assets for AR apps and experiences, participants also learn to do research, make storyboards, and create captivating interactive narratives tailored to Augmented Reality experiences. The complete process from initial concept to resulting 3D content and AR application is explained and the participants contribute to all of these steps in the pipeline and the resulting production. This approach, where the actual conceptualization and production of the resulting AR visitor experience is in the hands of the participants, is one of the fundamentals of the TravelAR Slovenia project and makes it a truly community-driven co-creation effort. Kočevje The TravelAR Slovenia Project and the TravelAR application offers tourists in the town of Kočevje three exciting AR-driven visitor experiences. The medieval Auersperg Castle, once the centerpiece of the town, but destroyed after WW2, plays a central role in the first AR experience. With the TravelAR application visitors take a trip through the intriguing history of the castle. The AR experience itself is triggered by a beautifully designed poster, which functions as a marker and also contains user instructions of the TravelAR application. The castle is presented as an Augmented Reality diorama. Users see 3D reconstructions of the castle, which are based on historical data, in different stages of its existence. An interactive timeline, with added information and facts, gives users the possibility to skip through the different era’s. A narrator highlights the history of the Auersperg castle and its importance to Kočevje. Crucial events in the castle’s history, such as the bombing of the castle in WW2 and its following destruction, are described by the narrator and visually illustrated with dynamic 3D animations that take place within the AR diorama and center around the 3D castle. There is an additional fun AR experience. Another poster, designed to function as a marker, has the outline of an authentic 17th century knight’s armour, originally worn by members of the noble Auersperg family. Users can take an exciting photo of their travel partners wearing this cool Augmented Reality knight’s armour, and pretend to be a 17th century Auersperg knight. This photo can then be sent to the user’s email address. The third visitor experience captures Kočevje’s intangible heritage. We recreated a lively and dynamic krošnjar character, who guides tourists past specific highlights of Kočevje’s town center and provides extra information about these locations through a captivating narrative. The krošnjar was a peddler typical for the Kočevje region, who traveled throughout the region to sell his merchandise, share the latest news, and provide entertainment such as the fiksniks dice game. The krošnjar character appears in front of the user when they arrive to specific GPS positions. These positions are also indicated on a playfully designed map of the town, which is part of the applications navigation menu and contains all the AR visitor experiences. There are several points where the AR character appears. He shares a recipe of a traditional local delicacy, users have the opportunity to play the intriguing fiksniks dice game. At all of the locations the krošnjar functions as a vivid and dynamic AR tourist guide that shares important and fun facts about the history of Kočevje in his own playful characteristic way with the users. Črnomelj There are two visitor experiences in the town of Črnomelj. One deals with the WW2 period and the other one deals with 17th century Črnomelj. Both are in the TravelAR-app, the second one is also available pre-installed on the Epson Moverio BT-350 AR-glasses, available at the location in Črnomelj. The first TravelAR visitor experience is based on the wartime experiences of a local inhabitant of Črnomelj who was around the age of 10 during the start of WW2. His personal experiences and events taking place in the Črnomelj form the common thread for the visitor experience. Users of the app are guided by a 2D boy character (based on childhood photos of the local inhabitant) along 10 locations in the town center. At each location, visible via GPS on a stylized map of Črnomelj, the boy appears on the device’s screen. Hovering in the same location as where events took place are textual information as well as actual photos from that era, while a narrator tells the captivating story about wartime Črnomelj and the boy’s experiences. On two locations during this TravelAR visitor experience users can engage with dynamic 3D content. One location depicts an actual scene of the occupation of the town. Users see a portal at the beginning of the physical street, when they enter it they are transported to a Mixed Reality environment, a reconstruction of the exact same street in the 1940’s. They can walk through the 1940’s street, which is on the exact scale as the physical one, and will be confronted with a 3D replica of a German WW2 tank rolling down the main street. The other location contains an exact 3D replica of a machine gun used by partizan forces during the war. Users can view the machine gun from up-close and see it in detail, while the narration explains more about the use of the machine gun by the Partizans and within a WW2 context. Visitors of the picturesque town can travel through time to explore Črnomelj as it was in the 17th century with their own mobile device as well as the dynamic Epson Moverio AR-glasses. Visitors can view and interact with a stylized AR maquette, highlighting the town’s historical landmarks as detailed 3d models, in the town center. The Church of the Holy Spirit, the Church of Saint Peter, the former town walls and the Črnomelj castle have been reconstructed as they were in the 17th century. These reconstructions are based on historical data and give users an actual representation of the scale and look of the town centre in that century. Detailed information about these cultural heritage spots in the form of a captivating narrative enriched with textual information is provided throughout the experience. Žička Kartuzija The TravelAR Augmented Reality visitor experiences in Slovenske Konjice are dedicated to a well-known Slovene historical landmark, the Žiče Charterhouse. This 12th century Carthusian Charterhouse is an important tourist attraction in northeastern Slovenia. The focus is on the cultural heritage site’s history and consists of 3 AR-driven visitor experiences. These are pre-installed on the Epson Moverio BT-350 AR-glasses, which also function as a navigational tool. Currently there is an existing audio tour along a variety of ruins. We enhanced this audio tour by adding visual components, enabling easy navigation of the premises. The HMD provides visitors with the audio and a dynamic AR-driven 3D scaled map of the Charterhouse. The scaled map depicts all the sights that are present in the audio tour and where visitors can find the 3 TravelAR visitor experiences. The first TravelAR experience focuses on the Church of St John the Baptist’s ruins in the courtyard of the Charterhouse. The exterior walls of the church are the only remnants, but visitors see these ruins return to their former glory with the Epson HMD in an exciting and dynamic Mixed Reality experience. At the threshold of the ruin visitors enter a virtual portal. This portal transports them back in time and visitors find themselves in the middle of the church in its heyday in an immersive and atmospheric experience. The visitors are now physically in the ruins of the church, and see a beautiful 3D reconstruction of the interior of the church in all its glory all around them through the Epson Moverio. They can walk through the remains of the physical church, while at the same time walking through the detailed 3D reconstruction of the interior of the church, and examine the churches interior and marvellous decorations up-close and in detail. The second AR visitor experience is in the Charterhouse museum and centers around the Illuminated Manuscript on exhibit. Visitors experience an AR-scene in which the manuscript on display as well as a historical character are brought back to life. When visitors view the exhibited manuscript they see its illustrations come to life with colors and motion. Then a 3D monk character, who is laboriously working on the manuscript and praying, appears. The scene is enhanced with atmospheric audio, giving users of the Epson Moverio truly the feeling they are in medieval times and looking over the shoulders of a pious monk. The audio includes narration, helping visitors to interpret the scene and giving even more insight into medieval monastic life. The museum houses an iconic painting that is central to the third TravelAR visitor experience. The painting, originating from the 18th century, depicts the Charterhouse at its height and contains a scene representing the origin story of the Žička Charterhouse, the legend of king Otokar. Visitors who view the painting through the Epson Moverio see a vivid animated version of this painting, rustling leaves, animals and people are in motion, while in the meantime the legend of Otokar and the Charterhouse’s origins play out in front of their eyes. The Moverio BT-350 makes this a dynamic and seamless visitor experience. These 3 visitor experiences together with the navigational tool form the captivating Žička Kartuzija TravelAR Slovenia visitor experience.