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A hybrid augmented reality guide for underwater cultural heritage sites


Modern technologies allow us to experience cultural heritage sites in new and exciting ways. Recent improvements in mobile computing provide tools capable of running augmented reality in real-time performance. Augmented reality is the perfect medium for visualizing and interacting with cultural heritage sites including both buildings and artefacts. Currently, this is possible on land, but sites located in the sea under water are hard to access and present many challenges. In this paper, we present a novel augmented reality guide for divers to present ancient lost buildings at underwater archeological sites. The prototype system runs on a smartphone sealed in a waterproof case and uses a hybrid approach (markers and inertial sensors) to localize the diver on the site. Accuracy of the tracker is measured in a laboratory in a simulated underwater environment. The application was experimentally evaluated at an underwater archeological site in Italy in Baiae. A pilot study with ten expert divers was performed, and their feedback, obtained directly in water, showed that this new experience significantly enhances user experience in underwater archeological sites.

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This research is a part of the i-MareCulture project (Advanced VR, iMmersive Serious Games and Augmented REality as Tools to Raise Awareness and Access to European Underwater CULTURal heritagE, Digital Heritage) that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement No. 727153.

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Correspondence to Jan Čejka.

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Čejka, J., Zsíros, A. & Liarokapis, F. A hybrid augmented reality guide for underwater cultural heritage sites. Pers Ubiquit Comput 24, 815–828 (2020).

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  • Augmented reality
  • Cultural heritage
  • Underwater
  • User experience