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DeAR Museum

The Tomato Industrial Museum, D. Nomikos, enters a new era of guided tours. In collaboration with the University of Patras – Departments of Electrical Engineering, Computer Technology, and Civil Engineering – applications of augmented and virtual reality were implemented for narrative tours in the museum.

The DeAR Museum (Development and implementation of AR – VR productions for the Museum) involves innovation both at a theoretical and applied level and was implemented within the framework of the “RESEARCH – CREATE – INNOVATE” Action with code reference OPE 5033190 and Action code reference SA: T2EDK 01392, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of the European Union and national resources through the Operational Programme Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation (EPAnEK).

The project expands current scientific, research, and applied knowledge in the field of design and development of digital applications of mixed, augmented, and virtual reality that are restored and highlighted within the context of museum use. The project aims to develop narrative museum scenarios using innovative augmented and virtual reality applications, with the goal of providing a personalized experiential visit to an industrial space transformed into a “museum of itself.”

Particular emphasis was placed on approaching daily life and work in the old factory. Simultaneously, within the framework of relevant research, a method of digital retrieval of components from the historical mechanical equipment of the factory that no longer exists was developed. This pioneering method can be applied to other thematic technological museums or similar applications for the preservation and promotion of technological cultural heritage.

More specifically, the project completed the development and production of digital applications based on a complex, interactive, and spatially evolving “narrative,” adapted to the layout of the exhibits and the visitors’ route during their visit to the Tomato Industrial Museum.

This includes:

Augmented Reality (AR) application.

Virtual Reality (VR) application.

Sound recording of machinery and factory environment to create soundscapes.

Digital retrieval of destroyed elements of the historical mechanical equipment.

Customized applications for personalized narrative tours.

 Customized applications for narrative tours for individuals with visual and mobility impairments.

The applications start from the demonstrative operation of the preserved historical mechanical equipment of the old factory and the digital representation of the machines’ movement, after the equipment’s deficiencies have been digitally complemented. To achieve this, a detailed digital scanning of the mechanical equipment was performed to create three-dimensional models of the machines. Additionally, digital design of machine components that no longer exist as physical objects was carried out. Alongside these efforts, simulation of movement and machines was conducted using moving images (animation) and filming of the space with a 360-degree camera, following the scenario’s route.

The project is expected to have a positive impact on society, science, and the economy. Regarding society, the project:

 Enhances the provision of cultural services and goods.

Creates and develops new innovative products and services that enhance the user experience, including those with disabilities, concerning augmented user experiences.

Upgrades infrastructure to promote the country’s cultural heritage.

Highlights and promotes the relationship between Tourism, Culture, and Creative Industries through the preservation, complementation, and promotion of material and intangible cultural assets, utilizing them as a means of developing special forms of tourism.

Regarding science and the economy, the project has produced significant research in the broader field of computer science. Continuous advancements in Augmented, Mixed, and Virtual Reality, Computer Vision, and Artificial Intelligence support the creation of innovative services and applications in the field of ubiquitous computing. In this context, businesses in Greece, such as the Industrial Tomato Museum, are evolving and adopting innovative design methodologies to provide augmented user experiences, contributing to the development of a new revolutionary generation of cultural heritage management applications.

The project results can be economically and commercially exploited by both the implementing enterprise and similar businesses, such as museums, institutions, and collections. This enhances the competitiveness and development of businesses by integrating new knowledge gained.

The points of utilization of the project’s results are as follows:

The methodology developed for the digital reconstruction of destroyed parts and elements of historical mechanical equipment can be used by all entities involved in thematic technological museums and those engaged in the preservation of technological heritage more broadly.

The project can be leveraged multiply by similar entities through the release of the platform as open-source.

The application of the project contributes to improving the operation of an active cultural entity and will support cultural tourism by promoting and showcasing cultural heritage, modern culture, and the tourism product. Specifically for Santorini, it achieves a redirection of tourism development from the Caldera area (“sun-sea-beach” model) to other areas that showcase different aspects of Santorini, revitalizing its rich economic and industrial history through folk and cultural activities.

The utilization of the results of the integrated research project enables the enterprise to offer visitors an experiential journey through the past, following the processing and production of tomatoes, one of the most famous and traditional products of Santorini: the Santorini cherry tomato, which is a specialized agricultural cultivation. Promoting the product and its processing methods can indirectly serve as “commercial” advertising for the island, leveraging its designation of origin.

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