Are Virtual Museums Replacing Real Ones?

CXO online

Ever wanted to explore an ancient Egyptian pyramid from the inside? Or have a chat with Albert Einstein about the theory of relativity? Or actually get up close to measure up a tyrannosaurus? Well, it looks like these could become a reality in the near time – thanks to AR-VR (augmented reality – virtual reality) revolution that is making museums move away from mere exhibitors to creators of experiences.

“Museums have long relied on technology to give context to their exhibits—whether through informational videos, audio guides, or smartphone apps. AR/VR is the next obvious step to increase a museum’s audience engagement and ultimately help visitors retain valuable information in an educational atmosphere,” explains IEEE member and Professor, Todd Richmond, in an exclusive conversation with CXOToday.

Richmond, who is also the Director, Tech & Narrative Lab at Pardee RAND Graduate School, believes that while both AR and VR have their benefits, the two technologies offer different types of engagement experiences. It’s important for a museum curator to understand these technologies in order for children and adults to be fully captivated or immersed in the experience.

Virtual Museums

“VR’s strength is embodiment and immersion,” explains Richmond. “So instead of looking at a physical display or video screen that recreates a time, place or objects, a user will be able to be inside that time or place,” he says.

The benefit of using virtual reality in museums means guests can feel like they’re walking in someone else’s shoes, understand their different viewpoints and engage in those interactions rather than just observe in a traditional setting.

“AR is slightly different in that it can overlay information, people or objects on the physical space,” says Richmond, adding that “So, museums and classrooms can be inhabited by a combination of physical spaces or objects and digital representations of information of people or objects.”