The project involves using a combination of hardware and software tools to allow users to explore the ARA PACIS in depth thanks to a unique and innovative experience combining augmented and virtual reality. At the entrance visitors receive their VR headsets (Samsung Gear VR) which will allow them to enjoy an interactive and immersive experience. Thanks to this headset and a new point of interest (POI) in virtual reality combining live video, 3D reconstructions and computer graphics, visitors will be immersed in a 360-degree environment and will have the opportunity to admire the Ara Pacis with its original colours, to observe particular areas of the surface of the monument come to life and to witness a ‘sacrifice’ staged by real actors. The visit continues with a series of further POIs in which the original colours of the monument and additional information about the history of these bas-reliefs appear as an overlay thanks to the use of augmented and virtual reality.
Notes on the hardware
The Samsung Gear VR headset combined with the Samsung S7 smartphone allows users to experience both virtual and augmented reality. This is done by showing users wearing the headset the video recorded by the smartphone camera. At the current time this is the only technological solution capable of blending together the real and virtual elements in the user’s field of view.
Real-time 3D tracking
In order to implement this project, ETT used a 3D tracking system for the augmented reality experience using highly sophisticated algorithms for the computer vision. Thanks to these properties, the entire AR system proposed is capable of recognising the three-dimensional nature of the bas-reliefs of the sculpted objects, tracking them in real time. This recognition system causes the augmented contents to appear as an overlay on top of the real objects, contributing to the impact, immersiveness and magic of the entire experience.
Characteristics of multimedia technological supports
The chosen hardware for the experience is Gear VR, a state-of-the-art AR/VR headset produced by Samsung that works by inserting a last generation smartphone (S7).
The project, promoted by Roma Capitale, Assessorato alla Crescita Culturale - Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali (Rome City Council Arts and Culture department and the local heritage authority) and organised by Zètema Progetto Cultura, was entrusted to ETT SpA.
Coordination, scientific direction, texts and screenplay were developed by the Roman heritage authority. The characters were voiced by Luca Ward and Manuela Mandracchia.
ETT S.p.A. ( www.ettsolutions.com) is an international digital creative agency with a wide range of experience and competences in the realms of new media, smart government and scientific research. Established in 2000, it now employs 100 staff based both in its Genoa headquarters and in its various branches in Rome, Milan, Naples, Ancona, Pescara, and Palermo. ETT also has European offices: a branch in London’s Tech City and in the Tecnopolo Ticino, Lugano, Switzerland. ETT combines innovative design, storytelling and cutting-edge technologies to create riveting experiences for museums, corporate and public contexts. It has created over 450 immersive installations all over the world, for over 50 museums as well as for private clients, attracting over 2 million visitors.