Choir recitals virtually return to Exeter Cathedral as a multi-channel project helps “share the wonder”

The virtual reality devices of the heritage sites of France and the United Kingdom have been adapted so that tourists can “visit” an attraction at the closing and, in the case of Exeter Cathedral, even hear the choir sing.

The VISTA AR project, led by the University of Exeter Business School and part of the EU’s Interreg France (Channel) England program, has worked closely with Exeter Cathedral, Fougères Castle in Brittany and others to develop digital devices that create new types of visitor experiences using augmented and virtual reality.

These include tablet-based audiovisual tours, virtual reality headphones that allow visitors to get to know characters from the past, and an augmented reality app that can point to an artifact or landscape to reveal its appearance hundreds of years ago.

Now, as the global pandemic has forced heritage sites to close their doors or rethink their operation, the VISTA team has launched new online teaser versions of its AR and VR devices to allow people to enjoy them from the ground up. from home.

VISTA has teamed up with Exeter Cathedral to provide a 360-degree video of a choir recital that has been launched, in a tasting of a new project where visitors to the cathedral can experience a performance immersive coral through VR headphones.

It follows the launch of another collaboration with the Cathedral in which visitors have the opportunity to explore online the ancient books and manuscripts from the Cathedral’s collection.

Digitized texts include the Exon Domesday, the only regional draft of William the Conqueror’s 1086 book Domesday, and The Anglo-Saxon Book of Poetry of Exeter, the world’s oldest English book of poetry.

This online experience has been launched before a project to develop and install digital touch screens in the cathedral that will allow visitors to access books, artifacts and other historical treasures.

Professor Andi Smart, VISTA AR project leader and professor of operations and process management at the University of Exeter Business School, said: “These experiences were produced to give potential visitors an insight into the experiences that will unfold in the place during the summer.

“Many sites have been promoting online content throughout the pandemic and it’s true that for some visitors an element of‘ online fatigue ’is being introduced. But we hope these experiences help encourage people to try the experience in. real site. ”

For the Very Revd Jonathan Greener, dean of Exeter, the new experiences represent a new chapter in the history of Exeter Cathedral.

He said: “Almost a thousand years have passed since the founding of Exeter Cathedral, so we love to tell visitors our story.

“But it is a living and evolving Cathedral, so we are equally excited about our present and future. That is why we are delighted to be part of the VISTA AR project.

“It’s about applying new technologies to tell our story to the next generation, whether they’re visiting the building here or discovering us online. And since some of those experiences are already online, we can share some something of the marvel of the cathedral of Exeter and its treasures with a much wider public ”.

Digital texts

VISTA is also present to present online “teasers” of its other projects with heritage sites across the UK and France.

An RA app for the Botallack tin mine in Cornwall that allows visitors to see the mines through history will be previewed via an interactive Google street view of the reconstructed mining landscape.

And before launching an AR app for South West Coast Path, England’s longest and most signposted long-distance route, VISTA will launch another 360 ° view of Google on the bird landscape with information about six species of birds.

In France, VISTA has also been working with Fougères Castle in Brittany to develop AR and VR devices that allow visitors to experience the life of the castle in medieval times and will post a promotional video showing the devices in action.

And potential visitors to Brittany’s Musée sous-marin (underwater museum Lorient) will soon have the opportunity to enter the heart of the ocean with divers of the last century with an immersive 360 ​​° teaser video on YouTube produced by VIEW.

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