Reinventing Museums in 21st Century: Implementing Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Technologies Alongside Social Media's Logics

Reinventing Museums in 21st Century: Implementing Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Technologies Alongside Social Media's Logics

Antonios Kargas (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece), Nikoletta Karitsioti (Department of Political Sciences and International Relations, University of Peloponnese, Greece) and Georgios Loumos (COMIC, Greece)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1796-3.ch007
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The forthcoming Industry 4.0 is expected to change not only manufacturing and industrial services, but will rearrange how services are offered in a variety of sectors, including museum's services. Museums will inevitably be led to more digital (VR & AR) and promoting (Social Media) paths. A forthcoming “digital convergence” between VR & AR technologies and social media's promoting logic could enlarge museums' potentialities in attracting more visitors, younger visitors, while new patterns for connecting learning effects and amusement should be established. This chapter contributes to the following: • Presenting existing theoretical and empirical research on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technological implementation in Museums. • Presenting current tensions on social media's usage from cultural organizations. • Exploring how VR & AR applications can incorporate various elements coming from social media operational logic.
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Since mid-90s, museums face an ongoing need to implement new technologies and to answer visitors changing needs. The first steps to the digital world came World Wide Web and the development of Web Pages, which open a window to global public, arising questions about the relationship between “increased accessibility” (via internet) and “attractiveness” (from digital) to the real museum place. Even form these first digital steps, where content and context were delivered via web pages, many researchers and professionals started to visualize what Marlaux (Malraux, 1996) introduced in 1947 as “imaginary museum”

(. . .) a logically related collection of digital objects composed in a variety of media, and, because of its capacity to provide connectedness and various points of access, it lends itself to transcending traditional methods of communicating and interacting with the visitors being flexible toward their needs and interests; it has no real place or space, its objects and the related information can be disseminated all over the world. (Schweibenz, 1998).

A bit later, social media become part of everyday life and most of the museums worldwide created their own accounts in order to stay “connected” with visitors, world’s audience and social stakeholders. Social media was an alternative, faster, low cost and direct (user friendly) way (Sylaiou, Liarokapis, Kotsakis, & Patias, 2009) to share content, to announce events and to extend “potential” visitors’ pool. This kind of communication was radically facilitated by mobile devices (phones and tablets), enabling a series of dynamic and interactive applications (Hin, Subramaniam, & Aggarwal, 2003). Smartphones are nowadays reshaping the environment, permitting new applications in emerging eras (Kim et al., 2014), such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) platforms and applications.

These two technologies have already gained interest from both methodologically and empirically research. For example, Sparacino et al. (Sparacino, Davenport, & Pentland, 2000) and Grinter et al. (Grinter et al., 2002) studied interactive technologies in museums, while Brown et al. (Brown, Maccoll, Chalmers, & Galani, 2003) and Bowers et al. (Bowers et al., 2007) explored interactive exhibits using ubiquitous displays with augmented reality. More recent studies concentrated on comparisons of VR, AR and Web3D in virtual museums / exhibitions (Sylaiou et al., 2009), in implementing AR on archaeological site (Angelopoulou et al., 2012; Gutierrez, Molinero, Soto-Martín, & Medina, 2015), in evaluating VR and AR experience in cultural places (Higgett, Chen, & Tatham, 2016; Izzo, 2017).

Current research on VR & AR mainly targets aspects related with their operational strengths and weakness (Loumos, Kargas, & Varoutas, 2018), while social media literature has its own goals related mainly with distribution and promotion. Authors will use their experience from creating a VR & AR application for cultural organizations (named VAREAL and being prepared for market release in late 2019) to explore the technological and business opportunities / limitations of incorporating social media elements in VR & AR apps (such as emoticons, comments, like-dislike, chatting, social networking etc.). Authors aim to reveal that the ongoing technological development made feasible to re-examine digital technologies’ s usages and potentialities, by incorporating tools and techniques from different digital fields, such as social media.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Industry 4.0: a “marriage” between the physical world / sciences with digital technologies. Digital technologies offer new ways of interconnection with “physical”, effective data collection and wise systems capable to interpret the gathered data for a more holistic, informed decision making (action back to physical world).

Cultural Sector: A large variety of industries, also called under the term “cultural and creative industries”. The term is used to describe a wide variety of organizations and private companies enabling in an even wider list of activities including (representatively): Museums, galleries and libraries, IT, software and computer services, Architecture, Advertising and marketing, Crafts, Design (product, graphic and fashion design), Film, TV, video, radio and photography, Publishing, Music, performing and visual arts.

Instagram Museums: Museums / cultural places that have as main target the development of experiences for their visitors in order to make them create and reproduce Instagram posts. Through this procedure they can gain popularity indirectly, while their visitor gain a worth – to – mention – online experience. Artefacts, exhibitions and physical place is designed in such a manner that facilitates or even provoke “photoshoots”, while visitors are expected to be part of the photo. More traditional museums forbid photographs and even when it is allowed it is expected to target the cultural artifacts only.

Augmented Reality (AR): Augmented Reality (AR) is the technology that integrates digital information with the real world in a way that enhances graphics, sounds and 3D objects over the natural objects. AR technology focuses on the enriched experiences of the users, presenting visual information complementary of the natural environment through users’ devices. The digital augmented content interacts with the user actions as most of the time the AR content is touchable and quite responsive on user’s input.

Museums’ Instagrammization: The new trend of widespread use of Instagram in Museums. Instagram is counted as one of the communication tools for museums. In particular there are museums using Instagram to showcase their art pieces or attract wider audiences or even carry on the user experience after the visit’s end.

Mobile Devices: The term is used to describe devices that users usually have with them and can be used to deliver high added value content during a visit in a museum. Such devices can be smartphones and tablets, while technological evolution is constantly developing handsets capable to deliver VR or AR content.

Virtual Reality (VR): Virtual Reality (VR) is the technology that creates 3D scenes, places and worlds where users, through headset devices are connected and participating in. These environments are computer generated, capable to interact with users’ actions and allow them to discover fantastic worlds by using most of their senses as living in the real world. VR experiences depends on system’s capabilities, as the visual quality is directly related with the graphics rendering hardware and the simulation software.

Social Media in Museums: More and more museums are using Social Media accounts so as to build awareness and interact with their audiences. The most popular social media for museums are Instagram, Facebook and afterwards follows twitter. The social media accounts are usually available in the museum’s official website, in the Contact page.

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