Employing Digital Reality Technologies in Art Exhibitions and Museums: A Global Survey of Best Practices and Implications

Employing Digital Reality Technologies in Art Exhibitions and Museums: A Global Survey of Best Practices and Implications

Yowei Kang (National Taiwan Ocean University, Taiwan) and Kenneth C. C. Yang (The University of Texas at El Paso, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1796-3.ch008


The global AR, MR, and VR markets will reach USD$40.6 billion in 2019. As a result, digital reality technologies have become a key component of promoting art exhibition and museum industries to the general public around the world. Emerging applications such as ARCHEOGUIDE, ARCO, and 3D-MURALE have allowed museum-goers to access archeological artefacts and sites remotely without physically visiting the museums. Digital reality technologies have therefore been perceived to have the great potential to promote (creative) cultural industry contents, because of the characteristics of these platforms (e.g., interactivity, realism, and visualization). This chapter employs a case study approach to discuss the current state of digital reality technology applications in museums and art exhibitions around the world. The study provides several best practice examples to demonstrate how digital reality technologies have fundamentally transformed the art exhibitions and museums.
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According to Deloitte Consulting LLP & Consumer Technology Association (2018), the term, digital reality technology, refers to a cluster of technologies that are able to immerse partially or fully users in a computer-generated virtual environment. In general, these technologies include the following immersive technological platforms, ranging from augmented (AR), mixed (MR), virtual reality (VR), 360 degree video, etc (Deloitte Consulting LLP & Consumer Technology Association, 2018; Forbes, Kinnell, & Goh, 2018; eMarketer.com, 2018a, b, c, d, e, f).

Rosy economic outlook may justify recent surging interest in these digital reality technologies among art exhibition and museum professionals. According to a report by ResearchandMarkets.com (2018), global revenues for both augmented reality (henceforth, AR) and virtual reality (henceforth, VR) are expected to reach $94.4 billion by the year of 2023. The combined yearly growth of AR and VR is also expected to reach $143.3 billion in 2020 (IDC, 2017). Figure 1 offers a longitudinal prediction of the global AR, MR, and VR markets that are expected to grow USD$9 billion in 2016, to USD$25.6 billion in 2018, and to USD$40.6 in 2019 (Deloitte Consulting LLP & Consumer Technology Association, 2018). Thanks for the exponential growth of mobile devices (such as smartphones or tablets), AR technologies have exceeded VR in 2016 in terms of its market size of USD$5.2 billion vs. USD$3.7 billion in 2016 (Deloitte Consulting LLP & Consumer Technology Association, 2018). The augmented reality market has grown much faster than other digital reality platforms in 2019. In 2019, AR market is expected to grow to USD$27.2 billion, when compared with that of VR (USD$13.1 billion) and MR (USD$0.3 billion) (Deloitte Consulting LLP & Consumer Technology Association, 2018). Refer to Figure 1 below for more details of these different digital reality technologies.

Figure 1.

Digital reality technology market around the world

Note: in BillionSource: Deloitte Consulting LLP & Consumer Technology Association (2018), https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/topics/emerging-technologies/digital-reality-technical-primer.html

Key Terms in this Chapter

Augmented Reality: Commonly abbreviated as AR, the term refer to a simulated, but enhanced, reality that combines both computer-generated virtual and real-world data to allow users to complete real-time interactions with computer-generated graphics, imagery, and objects, in a smooth way and with an illusion of these layers of information coexisting in the same space.

Best Practice: A term that refers to a method or a procedure that can generate the best outcome, when compared with other alternative solutions.

(Creative) Cultural Industry: A term to refer to a set of knowledge-based and –generating economic sectors, ranging from advertising, broadcasting, crafts, film, graphic design, music, publishing, tourism, etc. This term is often used along with “creative”. This concept originated from Marxist philosophy and was coined by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer to describe the production and marketing of culture as a branch of the industry. It often covers a wide variety of industries, such as architecture, craft, film and television production, music, publication, etc.

Museum: Refers to an establishment that conserves, restores, and exhibits a collection of artistic, cultural, historical, scientific objects that are of importance to human experiences.

Immersion: As a loosely-defined psychological term, this term has been used to define a unique experience when using a media or technology platform. Often affiliated with digital reality technologies, and other “immersive” technologies, this concept refers to users’ perceptions to feel a sense of presence in a non-physical world. This term often refers to a fully surrounded experiences when using HMD in a virtual space.

Head/Helmet-Mounted Display: Also known as HMD, this term refers to the display device worn by users when they use digital reality applications to experience the virtual worlds through a small display in front of each eye. There are two types of HDM: monocular and binocular HDM, depending on if one or two displays are available to users.

Virtual Reality: Commonly abbreviated as VR is the most well-known digital reality technologies and was studied as early as in the 1980s. VR is able to produce an interactive and computer-generated experience by engrossing users within an artificial environment where interacting with the virtual articles are accomplished through auditory, visual, and haptic inputs.

Digital Reality Technology: A umbrella term to encompass a set of reality-creating technologies such as augmented reality, mixed reality, virtual reality, 360 degree video, and other emerging immersive technologies that are able to create a totally artificial virtual environment through computer-generated contents.

Case Study Approach: Refers to a social scientific research method that offers detailed and thorough description of an issue, an objective, a phenomenon, or a situation of interest as a case object.

Mixed Reality: Abbreviated as MR. This term sometimes refers to another term, hybrid reality. MR refers to the merger of both actual and virtual worlds to create an immersive virtual space where digital reality meets and coexists with physical objects to allow users to interact with reality-creating objects in real time.

Cultural Object: The term refers to human-made artefacts for a spiritual and/or practical purpose or activity that may have functional and/or artistic relevance to the general public.

Engagement: A term to describe the procedure or outcome to encourage a company’s customers to interact and share their experiences with the communication contents, cultural contents, the advertised brand, or the company (i.e., advertiser).

Ecosystem: A biological term that describes a community of living organisms and lifeless elements such as mineral, air, water, and soil. This term has been extended to study different operators/players in a specific industry. For example, the AR and VR ecosystem is made up for different industry sectors such as software development, 360 degree video developers, arcade, agency, education, network, university, accelerator, platform, corporate lab, tech vendor, among others.

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