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20 June 2005

Images from the Past

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With only a GPS system and three other small devices, the Ancient Past can now pop up from the ruins in front of the tourist’s eyes. This system has already been trialed in Pompei, Italy, and Greece

With only a GPS system and three other small devices, the Ancient Past can now pop up from the ruins in front of the tourist’s eyes. This system, called Archeoguide has already been trialed in Pompei, Italy, and Greece.

Chantal and Thierry love to visit historical sites. This year, they are having a trip around Greece, and have just made a stop at the site of Ancient Olympia. They want to see one of the most important sanctuaries of Antiquity - dedicated to Zeus - as well as the birthplace of the Olympic Games.

So far on their trip they have been reading guidebooks or listening to guides, making use of their imagination to visualize the buildings. But today, they are viewing the site as if they were in the past themselves. They have agreed to test a new tool called ‘Archeoguide’. Supported by the EU, researchers have developed a new information system along with other ICT experts from across Europe. Archeoguide provides users with the chance to see, in real time, a virtual reconstruction of buildings whilst listening to explanations.

Chantal and Thierry first tested Archeoguide on the Philippion. What remains today is just a couple of columns, and the whole structure is currently surrounded by scaffolding. But thanks to Archeoguide, Chantal and Thierry can see a reconstruction of the temple in real time and from all angles – a central body with white columns around the perimeter. What an amazing experience! Additionally, they also receive customized information about the buildings – which they specify prior to use to satisfy their own interests.

Archeoguide is based on cutting-edge technology using advanced IT including augmented reality, 3D-visualization, mobile computing, and multi-modal interaction techniques. The equipment consists of a Head-Mounted Display (HMD), an earphone and a mobile computing unit. But other versions include a PDA or a lightweight portable computer with a simple input device.

The couple tests all of them and chose to use the electronic glasses, which are light and easy to carry.

They are testing it on the temple of Hera, and then again at the temple of Zeus just opposite. While they are moving across the site, the images are also changing, according to the new perspective. And once they pass from one spot to another, a new reconstruction appears on screen. Such features are possible due to the tracking system. All around the site there are position sensors, which transmit this data to the users guide.

Chantal and Thierry are fascinated and found Archeoguide very easy to use. Today they have not only made a step into the past, but also the future. People like Chantal and Thierry can start to imagine traveling without reading through guidebooks or carrying maps.

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