We have built, to our knowledge, the first real-world demonstration of the use of wearable 3D augmented reality display in a cultural heritage context. The overwhelming response from those who tried the final version was one of increased engagement with the history of their surroundings, which was our main aim. We learnt a lot from the development process and there is a lot more to learn still.
Initially there were technology issues which were overcome by additional hardware (GPS receivers) and software (compass diagnostics).
We have shown an initial palette of user interface elements for interacting in the mixed reality world. It is clear to us that this project has only scratched the surface of what is possible there. In the latter stages we were able to get more detailed feedback about user experience which guided us towards introduction of additional user interface features such as arrows guiding users to the time portals.
The practicalities of providing glasses to museum or heritage site visitors should not be underestimated. During testing/feedback there were a total of four site visits to present incremental developments to staff and gain feedback which was used in an iterative development process. In a future project we would aim for even more frequent and regular contact time.
We found that giving glasses to a group of people makes for some interesting mixed-reality social interactions, with some responding to what they see from the display and others responding to elements of the real-world. There is great potential in future work to make this duality an integral part of the gameplay.
By showing that these kinds of application are within reach of modern technology, we believe there is scope for conducting projects such as this one on a much bigger scale, and with even greater user involvement in the interface design and gameplay elements.