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Gesture based human motion and game principles to aid understanding of science and cultural practices


We present a novel approach for recreating life-like experiences through an easy and natural gesture-based interaction. By focusing on the locations and transforming the role of the user, we are able to significantly maximise the understanding of an ancient cultural practice, behaviour or event over traditional approaches. Technology-based virtual environments that display object reconstructions, old landscapes, cultural artefacts, and scientific phenomena are coming into vogue. In traditional approaches the user is a visitor navigating through these virtual environments observing and picking objects. However, cultural practices and certain behaviours from nature are not normally made explicit and their dynamics still need to be understood. Thus, our research idea is to bring such practices to life by allowing the user to enact them. This means that user may re-live a step-by-step process to understand a practice, behaviour or event. Our solution is to enable the user to enact using gesture-based interaction with sensor-based technologies such as the versatile Kinect. This allows easier and natural ways to interact in multidimensional spaces such as museum exhibits. We use heuristic approaches and semantic models to interpret human gestures that are captured from the user’s skeletal representation. We present and evaluate three applications. For each of the three applications, we integrate these interaction metaphors with gaming elements, thereby achieving a gesture-set to enact a cultural practice, behaviour or event. User evaluation experiments revealed that our approach achieved easy and natural interaction with an overall enhanced learning experience.

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Archaeological museum La Merced, Cali - Colombia. Natural Sciences Museum, Cali - Colombia. Museo de América, Madrid. This project is part of the I+D+i research “augmented knowledge and accessibility: Musegraphic representation of complex cultural content” (reference: HAR2011-25953. Ministerio de Economa y Competitividad, Spain) from the research group Museum I+D+C (Universidad Complutense, Madrid). Digital culture and hypermedia museology laboratory, with the collaboration of the project MOMU (interactive model for museums - DESTINO research group, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Cali), financed by the Ministry of economy and competitiveness and by the Ministry of education, culture and sport, and supported by the Museo de América, Madrid, Fundación ITMA, Museo Convento Santo Domingo-Qorikancha, Cusco, Optimedia, Schwann Beijing, Telefónica ICT and the performing arts group El Tinglao that integrates people with functional diversity.

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All human participants signed an informed consent. This project followed ethical guidelines of our host institutions.

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Correspondence to Andrés Adolfo Navarro-Newball.

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Navarro-Newball, A.A., Moreno, I., Prakash, E. et al. Gesture based human motion and game principles to aid understanding of science and cultural practices. Multimed Tools Appl 75, 11699–11722 (2016).

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  • Gesture
  • Human motion
  • Gamification
  • Museum