The knowledge exchange project explores the virtual reality of museums

University College London

Virtual reality (VR) in museums is the focus of a recently funded knowledge exchange project that brings together UCL Culture, the UCL Bartlett Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) and the AI ​​Kagenova technology start-up, founded by UCL scientists.

The project will allow these highly specialized teams to come together to share ideas, experiences and skills to support VR innovation in the museum sector.

Kagenova has developed a new technology based on the exploration of the unknown horizons of the night sky by UCL astrophysics scientists. This will allow them to provide photorealism and interactivity in RV, at the same time and on a scale. These new immersive technologies are driven by Kagenova’s artificial intelligence techniques, which are specifically tailored to virtual reality.

Astrostatistics and astroinformatics professor Jason McEwan (UCL Space and Climate Physics), who is also the founder and CEO of Kagenova, said: “We are excited about this knowledge exchange partnership to help explore how technology could be used. to support cultural exhibitions and make them more accessible ”.

The collaboration will explore ways in which virtual exhibits captured in this way can enhance students ’learning experience (both combined and online). This will benefit both UCL and the wider higher education community, as well as allow the general public to participate in collections in new ways, wherever they are in the world.

The findings of this project will be particularly beneficial for smaller museums, which often do not have the budget or infrastructure to compete with national museums in developing new digital products and services.

The collaboration with Kagenova allows UCL Culture to experiment with state-of-the-art 360VR technology. UCL museums have been pioneers in interdisciplinary research and research aimed at collections and exhibitions for more than a decade.

Dr. Nina Pearlman (UCL Art Collections), who has been the strategic leader of this project, said: “Our exhibitions are integrated into the learning experience in different ways and we want to contribute this pedagogical knowledge to the conversations. with technology in a way that can unite students ’on-site and remote learning experiences, as well as connect with our remote audience.

“Collaborating with knowledge exchange funding is key to being able to identify new ideas that can help us design better solutions, services, and experiences to meet our current challenges.”

UCL CASA researchers have been exploring virtual environments for many years with a focus on technological innovation and accessibility, fostering the next generation of developers and technological innovators.

Professor of digital urban systems, Andy Hudson-Smith (UCL CASA), said: “The collaboration provides the opportunity to explore the edges of technology, from multisite portals to 3D objects embedded in panoramic scenes and integration into emerging metaverses. All with a direct loop towards teaching and research at UCL ”.

Based on the strength of UCL in innovation, the learnings of this project will be disseminated and shared through cultural and technological networks, the education sector and the media. Without this project, these learnings would be logistically impossible or prohibitively expensive to achieve individually.

This knowledge exchange project is supported by UCL’s Higher Innovation Fund (HEIF), managed by UCL Innovation & Enterprise. The partnership between UCL Culture, UCL CASA and the start-up Kagenova has been facilitated by the UCL Innovation & Enterprise Business and Innovation Partnerships team.

  • UCL Culture
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