3D interactive technology and the museum visitor experience

Smith, M (2015) 3D interactive technology and the museum visitor experience. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


There is a growing interest in developing systems for displaying museum artefacts as well as historic buildings and materials. This work connects with this interest by creating a 3D interactive display for Fishbourne Roman Palace Museum, West Sussex, England. The research aimed to create a reconstruction of the Palace as it would have been at its height, a reconstruction that was interactive in the sense that museum visitors would be able to walk through the buildings and local grounds and experience the site in a way not possible through traditional museum displays. The inclusion of the interactive element prompted the incorporation of game engines as a means of visualising and navigating around the reconstructed 3D model of the Palace. There are numerous game engines available, and the research evaluated a selection with respect to their functionality, cost, and ease of use. It also applied a technology readiness method to assess potential users’ response to the incorporation of different degrees of interactivity. Research was undertaken regarding the appearance of the Palace and, based on the available archaeology and relevant artistic interpretations, a model was created using Autodesk Maya software. This model was exported into each of the possible game engines, and a comparison was made based of each engine’s audio, visual, and functional fidelity, as well as composability and accessibility. The most appropriate engine is chosen based on these results. With reference to the assessment criteria, the hardware and software is in preparation for installation at the Fishbourne Roman Palace Museum. The Technology Readiness Index was applied to determine the effectiveness of such a display compared to a non-interactive representation, a study that concludes that a highly interactive display may not be the most sensible solution for the majority of visitors.

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