Special Issue "Virtual Reality and Its Application in Cultural Heritage"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Christos Fidas
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Cultural Heritage Management and New Technologies, University of Patras, Agrinio 30100, Greece
Interests: Human Computer Interaction; Cultural Heritage; Cognitive User Modeling; Adaptation; Personlization
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Stella Sylaiou
Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
School of Social Sciences, Hellenic Open University, 26335 Patra, Greece
Interests: Digital Humanities; Cultural Informatics; Digital Museology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Recent advancements of Virtual Reality (VR) technologies provide new opportunities for cultural heritage organizations to attract, engage, and support end-users more efficiently and effectively by creating unprecedented interactive experiences that can scaffold users’ creativity, learning, collaboration, and entertainment. However, several user studies have underpinned the necessity to further investigate and improve current approaches and practices related to the design, implementation, and evaluation of VR applications to meet and fulfill the needs and requirements of all involved stakeholders. One possible way to achieve this objective is through the provision of personalized VR user experiences that cater to the diverse characteristics and requirements of stakeholders.

The aim of this Special Issue is to attract leading researchers at the intersection of VR and cultural heritage in an effort to highlight the latest exciting developments in this field discuss the underlying methods and approaches for designing, implementing and evaluating VR experiences in the cultural heritage domain. We encourage the submission of papers that examine innovative approaches that provide interesting theoretical and empirical contributions to this research theme as well as future research suggestions. The accepted contributions will include theoretical considerations, experimental validation, and proof-of-concept applications.

Dr. Christos Fidas
Dr. Stella Sylaiou
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Applied Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • virtual reality
  • cultural heritage
  • user studies
  • virtual reality experiences
  • personalization

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Virtual Reality in Museums: Exploring the Experiences of Museum Professionals
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(11), 4031; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10114031 - 11 Jun 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
The past few years have seen an increase in the use of virtual reality (VR) in museum environments in an attempt for museums to embrace technological innovations and adapt to the challenges of the digital era. While there are studies that examine the [...] Read more.
The past few years have seen an increase in the use of virtual reality (VR) in museum environments in an attempt for museums to embrace technological innovations and adapt to the challenges of the digital era. While there are studies that examine the advantages of VR in museums and visitors’ experiences with it, there are no studies examining the experiences of museum professionals who are responsible for a museum’s objects and narratives. The aim of this paper is to explore the practices, experiences, and perceptions of museum professionals on the use of VR technology in museums, their perceived advantages and challenges of such technologies, and their vision for the future of technology in museums. The paper provides an in-depth analysis of interviews with museum professionals from a number of countries around the world who worked with particular VR projects in their own institutions. The ultimate aim is to offer a more critical and holistic examination and assessment of the use of VR in museums and provide suggestions for designing and developing VR projects in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Virtual Reality and Its Application in Cultural Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Mergin’ Mode: Mixed Reality and Geoinformatics for Monument Demonstration
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(11), 3826; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10113826 - 31 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Since smart devices are becoming the primary technological means for daily human activities related to user-location, location-based services constitute a crucial component of the related smart applications. Meanwhile, traditional geospatial tools such as geographic information systems (GIS) in conjunction with photogrammetric techniques and [...] Read more.
Since smart devices are becoming the primary technological means for daily human activities related to user-location, location-based services constitute a crucial component of the related smart applications. Meanwhile, traditional geospatial tools such as geographic information systems (GIS) in conjunction with photogrammetric techniques and 3D visualization frameworks can achieve immersive virtual reality over custom virtual geospatial worlds. In such environments, 3D scenes with virtual beings and monuments with the assistance of storytelling techniques may reconstruct historical sites and “revive” historical events. Boosting of Internet and wireless network speeds and mixed reality (MR) capabilities generate great opportunities for the development of location-based smart applications with cultural heritage content. This paper presents the MR authoring tool of “Mergin’ Mode” project, aimed at monument demonstration through the merging of the real with the virtual, assisted by geoinformatics technologies. The project does not aim at simply producing an MR solution, but more importantly, an open source platform that relies on location-based data and services, exploiting geospatial functionalities. In the long term, it aspires to contribute to the development of open cultural data repositories and the incorporation of cultural data in location-based services and smart guides, to enable the web of open cultural data, thereby adding extra value to the existing cultural-tourism ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Virtual Reality and Its Application in Cultural Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
ArkaeVision VR Game: User Experience Research between Real and Virtual Paestum
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(9), 3182; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10093182 - 02 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The design of a virtual reality (VR) cultural application is aimed at supporting the steps of the learning process-like concrete experimentation, reflection and abstraction—which are generally difficult to induce when looking at ruins and artifacts that bring back to the past. With the [...] Read more.
The design of a virtual reality (VR) cultural application is aimed at supporting the steps of the learning process-like concrete experimentation, reflection and abstraction—which are generally difficult to induce when looking at ruins and artifacts that bring back to the past. With the use of virtual technologies (e.g., holographic surfaces, head-mounted displays, motion—cation sensors) those steps are surely supported thanks to the immersiveness and natural interaction granted by such devices. VR can indeed help to symbolically recreate the context of life of cultural objects, presenting them in their original place of belonging, while they were used for example, increasing awareness and understanding of history. The ArkaeVision VR application takes advantages of storytelling and user experience design to tell the story of artifacts and sites of an important cultural heritage site of Italy, Paestum, creating a dramaturgy around them and relying upon historical and artistic content revised by experts. Visitors will virtually travel into the temple dedicated to Hera II of Paestum, in the first half of the fifth century BC, wearing an immersive viewer–HTC Vive; here, they will interact with the priestess Ariadne, a digital actor, who will guide them on a virtual tour presenting the beliefs, the values and habits of an ancient population of the Magna Graecia city. In the immersive VR application, the memory is indeed influenced by the visitors’ ability to proceed with the exploratory activity. Two evaluation sessions were planned and conducted to understand the effectiveness of the immersive experience, usability of the virtual device and the learnability of the digital storytelling. Results revealed that certainly the realism of the virtual reconstructions, the atmosphere and the “sense of the past” that pervades the whole VR cultural experience, characterize the positive feedback of visitors, their emotional engagement and their interest to proceed with the exploration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Virtual Reality and Its Application in Cultural Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Virtual Reality Models Based on Photogrammetric Surveys—A Case Study of the Iconostasis of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral Church of Saint Nicholas in Sremski Karlovci (Serbia)
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(8), 2743; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10082743 - 16 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
During recent years, the synergy of virtual reality (VR) and photogrammetry has become an increasingly prevalent way to visualize, represent, preserve and disseminate cultural heritage objects. Photogrammetry offers a reliable method for a faithful and accurate image-based modeling of real-world objects, while VR [...] Read more.
During recent years, the synergy of virtual reality (VR) and photogrammetry has become an increasingly prevalent way to visualize, represent, preserve and disseminate cultural heritage objects. Photogrammetry offers a reliable method for a faithful and accurate image-based modeling of real-world objects, while VR applications provide not only visualization, but also an immersive and interactive experience of the photogrammetrically reconstructed cultural heritage. This research aims to create and apply the method for providing VR experience in the context of cultural heritage by developing a workflow for the VR applications based on photogrammetric models. The proposed workflow was applied on the iconostasis of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral church of Saint Nicholas in Sremski Karlovci (Serbia). The presented method is based on the following main steps: generation ofan accurate 3D reconstruction of the iconostasisusing photogrammetry, the 3D model optimization, retopology, control and analysis and the process of creating the VR experience using a game-engine. The final result is an interactive walk through the church, which provides the user with an opportunity to visualize the iconostasis and its individual icons through different perspectives and multiple levels of detail, which is not otherwise possible when observing the church interior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Virtual Reality and Its Application in Cultural Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
Virtual Environments and Augmented Reality Applied to Heritage Education. An Evaluative Study
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(7), 2352; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10072352 - 30 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Technological advancements have provided heritage with new learning environments via the use of virtual and augmented reality, which can foster the accessibility and understanding of culture and propose new ways of interacting with heritage. Therefore, in this study, a systematic evaluation is carried [...] Read more.
Technological advancements have provided heritage with new learning environments via the use of virtual and augmented reality, which can foster the accessibility and understanding of culture and propose new ways of interacting with heritage. Therefore, in this study, a systematic evaluation is carried out of n=197 heritage education programs listed in the database of the Observatorio de Educación patrimonial en España (OEPE) (the Spanish Heritage Education Observatory–SHEO) which, in their descriptions, integrate the use of virtual environments and/or augmented reality to promote learning on the part of the user. The objectives of this study are: (1) to analyse the state of the art, (2) to evaluate the quality of their educational designs via the “analysis and assessment sequential method for heritage education programs” (SAEPEP-OEPE) and (3) to identify variables which can be improved or which have a significant influence on the quality of the programs. Highlights of the results include: (a) the increasing implementation of these technologies in heritage education programs, with the greater presence of virtual resources than of learning environments, (b) the low level of the scope of educational quality in their designs, particularly their assessment, and (c) the inclusion of advanced technologies slightly decreases the specificity of the educational design. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Virtual Reality and Its Application in Cultural Heritage)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Investigating the Learning Process of Folk Dances Using Mobile Augmented Reality
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(2), 599; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10020599 - 14 Jan 2020
Abstract
Learning how to dance is not an easy task and traditional teaching methods are the main approach. Digital technologies (such as video recordings of dances) have already been successfully used in combination with the traditional methods. However, there are other emerging technologies such [...] Read more.
Learning how to dance is not an easy task and traditional teaching methods are the main approach. Digital technologies (such as video recordings of dances) have already been successfully used in combination with the traditional methods. However, there are other emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality that have the potential of providing greater assistance, in order to speed up the process as well as assisting the learners. This paper presents a prototype mobile augmented reality application for assisting the process of learning folk dances. Initially, a folk dance was digitized based on recordings from professional dancers. Avatar representations (of either male or female) are synchronized with the digital representation of the dance. To assess the effectiveness of mobile augmented reality, it was comparatively evaluated with a large back-projection system in laboratory conditions. Twenty healthy participants took part in the study, and their movements were captured using motion capture system and then compared with the recordings from the professional dancers. Experimental results indicate that augmented reality (AR) application has the potential to be used for learning process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Virtual Reality and Its Application in Cultural Heritage)
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Open AccessArticle
A Digital Reconstruction of a Historical Building and Virtual Reintegration of Mural Paintings to Create an Interactive and Immersive Experience in Virtual Reality
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(2), 597; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10020597 - 14 Jan 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Nowadays, virtual reality technologies and immersive virtual reality (VR) apps allow people to view, explore, engage with and learn about historic monuments and buildings, historic sites, and even historic scenes. To preserve our cultural heritage for future generations. it is essential that damaged [...] Read more.
Nowadays, virtual reality technologies and immersive virtual reality (VR) apps allow people to view, explore, engage with and learn about historic monuments and buildings, historic sites, and even historic scenes. To preserve our cultural heritage for future generations. it is essential that damaged and dilapidated historic artefacts are accurately documented, and that steps are taken to improve user experiences in the areas of virtual visits, science and education. This paper describes an approach to reconstruct and restore historic buildings and mural paintings. The work process uses digital models that are then inserted into an interactive and immersive VR environment. Windows-Mixed Reality is used to visualize the said VR environment. The work method was applied at a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain), thereby creating a virtual three dimensional (3D) rendering of the architectural structures of the St Augustine Church in La Laguna and its murals. A combination of topography and terrestrial photogrammetry was used to reconstruct its architectural features, and the digital imaging tool DStretch® to recover its murals. The resulting 3D model was then inserted into an immersive and interactive VR environment created using the cross-platform game engine Unity. One of the greatest challenges of this project revolved around recovering the dilapidated and virtually nonexistent mural paintings using DStretch®. However, the final result is an immersive and interactive VR environment containing architectural and artistic information created within the video game engine Unity, which thereby allows the user to explore, observe and interact with a cultural heritage site in real time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Virtual Reality and Its Application in Cultural Heritage)
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