Virtual Worlds and Augmented Reality in Cultural Heritage
Mixed Realities (Milgram & Kishino 1994) and their concept of cyber-real space interplay invoke
such interactive digital narratives that promote new patterns of understanding. However,
the “narrative” part, which refers to a set of events happening during a certain period of time
and providing aesthetic, dramaturgical and emotional elements, objects and attitudes (Nandi &
Marichal 2000, Tamura et al 2001) is still an early topic of research. Mixing such aesthetic ambiences
with virtual character augmentations (Cavazza et al 2003) and adding dramatic tension
has developed very recently these narrative patterns into an exciting new edutainment medium
(Lindt 2003). Since recently, AR Systems had various difficulties to manage such a time-travel
in a fully interactive manner, due to hardware & software complexities in AR ‘Enabling Technologies’
(Azuma et al 2001). Generally the setup of such systems was only operational in specific
places (indoors-outdoors) or with specific objects which were used for training purposes
rendering them not easily applicable in different sites. Furthermore, almost none of these systems
feature full real-time virtual human simulation. With our approach, based on an efficient
real-time tracking system, which require only a small pre-recorded sequence as a database, we
can setup the AR experience with animated virtual humans anywhere, quickly. With the interplay
of a modern real-time framework for integrated interactive virtual character simulation, we
can enhance the experience with full virtual character simulations. Even if the environmental
conditions are drastically altered, thus causing problems for the real-time camera tracker, we can
re-train the camera tracker to allow it to continue its operation.
The proposed set of algorithms and methodologies aim to extend the “AR Enabling Technologies”
in order to further support real-time, mobile, dramaturgical and behavioured Mixed
Reality simulations, as opposed to static annotations or rigid geometrical objects. Fig. 1 depicts
fully simulated virtual humans (skin, clothes, face, body) augmenting a cultural heritage site.
As a preprocessing stage, our real-time markerless camera tracker system is being trained on the
scene that is aimed to act as the mixed Reality stage for the Virtual actors. During real-time mobile
operation and having already prepared the VR content for the virtual play, our system allows
the user to be immersed fully in the augmented scene and for the first time witness story-
ABSTRACT: we describe a complete methodology for real-time integrated mixed reality systems
that feature realistic complete simulations of animated virtual human actors (clothes, body,
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