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New Technology Helps Bring The Past To Life

The past is being brought to life through wireless technology thanks to a grant of around 145,000 from the Information Society Technology (IST) Programme of the European Unions Framework Programme.

The CHOSA (Cultural Heritage Of St Albans) project set out to develop a new way of interpreting and experiencing the Roman Park and remains of the ancient city of Verulamium, as well as St Albans museums. Using computer and mobile phone technology, they were able to provide a wireless tour and an interactive online game that takes the user through life in the city in different centuries and societies particularly helpful for younger children. New technology provides us with innovative ways to enhance and bring to life much of the historical information and artefacts within our collections, says Alison Coles, Marketing Manager for St Albans Museums. This will allow us to reach new users and audiences, whether it is for leisure or educational purposes, and, at the same time, preserve these sites for future generations. Much of the Roman city lies underground and visitors told us that they needed help in understanding the remains. Now, wireless technology allows us to feed text and/or an audio tour - with graphics and video clips - to visitors through their mobile phone or PDA as they stroll around the site. They can then take this information with them when leave, extending their learning experience beyond the duration of the actual visit. This, in turn, will reduce the need for costly printed material and enable us to update information as often as we need to. Verulamium was one of the largest towns in Roman Britain. From its beginnings in the late Iron Age it expanded to become a wealthy provincial town of the Roman Empire. Besides the finest Roman mosaics and wall plasters outside the Mediterranean, the museum offers interesting assets such as the recreated Roman rooms, hands-on Discovery Areas and touch screen databases. Peter Walters, UK National Contact Point for IST within the EUs 6th Framework Programme, believes this is a prime example how EU funding is being used to develop information and communications technology for everyone. The CHOSA project shows how many attractions could use wireless tours to improve the visitor experience. Historical and cultural institutions could bring to life thousands of ancient sites throughout Europe. Imagine the voice of an ancient Roman or Greek talking about Pompeii or the ruins at Delphi or Olympia. Without substantial funding from the EUs Framework programme, it is almost certain that this successful project may not have been possible. The Framework Programmes are the EUs main vehicle for support of leading edge, internationally collaborative R&D. The current Framework Programme (FP6) runs until 2006 and organisations wanting free information on how to access some of the 17.5bn available should log on to or call central telephone support on (+44) 0870 600 6080.,The EUs Framework Programmes are the worlds largest, publicly funded, research and technological development programmes. The Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) covers the period 2002-2006 and is the European Unions main instrument for the funding of collaborative research and innovation. It is open to public and private entities of all sizes in the EU and a number of non-EU countries. It has an overall budget of 17.5 billion. Most of the budget for FP6 is devoted to work in seven priority thematic areas:,? Life sciences, Genetics and Biotechnology for Health;,? Information Society Technologies;,? Nanotechnologies and Nanosciences, Knowledgebased Multifunctional Materials and New Production Processes and Devices;,? Aeronautics and Space;,? Food Quality and Safety;,? Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems; and,? Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge-based Society. There is also a focus on the research activities of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) across all seven thematic areas. The services of FP6UK are funded by the Office of Science & Technology (OST) / Department of Trade & Industry (DTI). More information can be found on IST Programme ,The IST Priority Thematic Area (PTA) of the 6th Framework Programme(FP6) is the largest of the seven PTAs with a budget of 3.6bn over the lifetime of FP6. The first Call for proposals with a budget of 1070m - closed in April 2003. The second Call closed on 15 October 2003 and had a budget of 525m. The 3rd Call for proposals will be announced in early June 2004 along with a Joint Call with the Priority 3 area -Nanotechnologies, Materials and Production technologies.,


United Kingdom