A Survey of Augmented Reality Applications in Cultural Heritage

A Survey of Augmented Reality Applications in Cultural Heritage

John Aliprantis (University of the Aegean, Mytilene, Greece) and George Caridakis (Intelligent Systems, Content and Interaction Laboratory, National Technical University of Athens, Athens and Department of Cultural Technology and Communication, University of the Aegean, Mytilene, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCMHS.2019070107
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Augmented reality is now a well-known concept, a technology that integrates digital content to the user's physical world. As more and more applications begin to reshape user's daily lives in multiple domains, cultural heritage sites have begun to focus on capitalizing augmented reality's potential and improve their visitor experience. This work provides an overview of the state-of-the-art techniques, methodologies, and technologies integrated with augmented reality applications for cultural heritage while also categorizing the current works according to the latest techniques as they integrate to enrich the user's experience. The survey presents an overview of the characteristics of an augmented reality system, and discusses the current challenges, issues, limitations, and future directions. Finally, this work examines the methods and techniques that are used in the cultural heritage and augmented reality integration, outlining benefits, and open issues.
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In recent years, Cultural Heritage (CH) institutions tend to utilize a wide range of applications offered by reality-based 3D modeling techniques through digital technologies, taking advantage of latest technological innovations to attract visitor’s interest. Moreover, museums around the world are shifting their focus towards a more visitor-centered future, triggering more consumer-oriented applications and exhibitions (Samis & Michaelson, 2016). Meanwhile, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) have being increasingly employed in the field of Cultural Heritage to foster the maintenance/preservation of Cultural Heritage artifacts and provide an enriched and multi-perspective view of artifacts in a digital form, thus driving visitors to recognize the importance of the past (Ott & Pozzi, 2011). As a consequence, cultural institutions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums – GLAMs) nowadays consider user’s satisfaction and understanding as vital for their future (Gkatsou, 2018), and therefore seek applications to enhance visitor’s experience such as virtual displays, digital reconstructions and mobile virtual.

Augmented Reality (AR) has changed the way users interact with digital applications and information. With the emergence of mobile smart platforms and devices (smartphones, tablets etc) and their promising potential in the field of AR (Butchart, 2011), mobile applications are capable of targeting a wider audience and enhancing user experience (UX) by displaying customized digital information such as images, videos and 3D models. Cultural institutions have taken advantage of state-of-the-art AR technologies and tend to design and implement applications that promote cultural heritage and enrich their visitor’s experience beyond the primary experience of viewing objects. Typical examples are mobile guides that enriches user’s visit, 3D representations of monuments and objects that have been damaged or deteriorated (Zaccarini et al., 2013), and mobile applications with digital storytelling that turns the museum tour into a narrative of a story tailored to the profile of each visitor (Ioannidis et al., 2013).

Other survey papers have been published recently (Billinghurst et al., 2015; Chatzopoulos et al., 2017; Sanna & Manuri, 2016; Bekele et al., 2018), that provide updated overview of technologies, state-of-the-art applications, limitations and future trends of AR systems. Meanwhile, more survey papers argue about the impact and the benefits of the AR from the stakeholders perspective, analyzing aspects such as stakeholder requirements, market and competition, value creation process and costs (Tscheu & Buhalis, 2016; Dieck & Jung, 2017; Galatis et al., 2016). There are also many research works that investigate the impact of AR aesthetics on both user’s satisfaction and user’s attitude and behavioral intentions toward the cultural site, alongside with other aspects that may influence user’s experience such as cultural background (Chung et al., 2018; Lee et al., 2015). However, in current literature there is a lack of focus on the capabilities and future potentials of the combination of AR applications with other modern technologies in order to enhance user’s experience in the CH field. This survey further discusses the benefits of AR technology integration in the CH domain, the integration of different technologies with AR that enriches user’s experience and analyzes current applications in the CH field that integrate more technologies than just the AR. Moreover, the main objectives of this review are as follows:

  • To present and analyze the different state-of-the-art technologies that are integrated with AR methods to improve user’s experience in the CH field;

  • To outline recent AR applications in the CH domain that propose different approaches in presenting users the digital content;

  • To estimate the future impact of AR in culture, the upcoming technologies that may dominate the AR-CH field and the issues that need to be addressed.

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