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Virtual Reality Cultural and Heritage Information Portal

Objective

The VRCHIP Project involves the application of virtual reality (VR) modelling technology to the dissemination of a town's historical and cultural information to the general public. The project involves the construction of models of a town through the ages with links to supporting multimedia information about features in the virtual towns. The models will include animations and sound for increased realism and will provide a user-friendly environment for research. Users will be able to navigate their way around the VR worlds easily and save or print images and information for later use. Public perception will be monitored and reported over a trial period to measure the value of the concept and to establish its future development direction. Proposals for further content development and its access via the Internet will be included in the final project report. The VRCHIP Project involves the application of virtual reality (VR) modelling technology to the dissemination of a town's historical and cultural information to the general public. The project involves the construction of models of a town through the ages with links to supporting multimedia information about features in the virtual towns. The models will include animations and sound for increased realism and will provide a user-friendly environment for research. Users will be able to navigate their way around the VR worlds easily and save or print images and information for later use. Public perception will be monitored and reported over a trial period to measure the value of the concept and to establish its future development direction. Proposals for further content development and its access via the Internet will be included in the final project report.

OBJECTIVES
The VRCHIP project aims to contribute to the European Commission's community social objectives by providing a pleasurable means of accessing cultural and heritage information. The primary objective is to create and test a facility utilising virtual reality (VR) representations of Knutsford through the ages as the interface to multi media cultural and heritage information about the town. The facility will be designed to operate in a web browser environment in anticipation of its future use across local intranets or the Internet. Evaluation of the facility is a key element of the project, not only in measuring the success of the facility as an information source but also its acceptance by the community as an effective means to deliver the information. As a result of monitoring usage and reactions from a range of interested parties the trial will contribute to an improved understanding of user requirements in accessing cultural and heritage information.

DESCRIPTION OF WORK
The project will commence with the development of a detailed description of the project requirements, their interfaces and responsibilities. This will require some research into the nature and extent of information available and the establishment of the periods represented by each VR world. The extent of each VR environment, its animation and sound content, and the user interface will also be specified. Data requirements will be identified and formats for data capture and transfer documented. In addition, the methodology for measurement of public perception during the trial period will be developed. The VR models will be built using commercial off the shelf (COTS) modelling software and will be developed from local maps, plans, photographs, drawings and layout information. The virtual towns will then be built using geometrical constructions with a combination of common building textures and digitally captured images to provide the realism. Sound bites will be captured or developed to provide a proximity sensitive background. Animation of humans and vehicles will be incorporated to provide added realism and information. The world will be designed to prevent the user passing through objects or getting lost in the VR environment. It will also be constructed to provide optimum performance on a standard desktop PC and to be viewable subsequently over an intranet or the Internet without undue performance penalties. Links will be established throughout the models to aid navigation and to provide the additional multimedia information associated with the features in the VR world. The basis for the historical VR world structure and content will be determined from available documentation and other archives held locally. The additional information will be gathered and compiled into electronic files that will be linked to the VR world features. This will include photographs, text, drawings, video and sound. The completed facility will be installed in the new Knutsford library building where its use will be monitored. Training of supervisory staff will be provided and user manuals supplied. A scheme for measuring its usage and public perception will be implemented over an evaluation period to determine the success of the concept. The results of this monitoring exercise will be reported with observations on technical implementation issues, the human computer interface, and recommendations for future uptake and development.

Funding Scheme

BUR - Bursaries, grants, fellowships

Coordinator

NATIONAL NUCLEAR CORPORATION LIMITED
Address
Booths Hall, Chelford Road
WA16 8QZ Knutsford, Cheshire
United Kingdom

Participants (1)

CHESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
United Kingdom
Address
Goldsmith House, Hamilton Place
CH1 1SE Chester