Natural History Museum

Augmented Reality at the NHM

IVC Technologies's brief was to show enhanced and individualised content through the medium of bespoke hand held touchscreen devices.

IVC Technologies has completed the final stage in its project to bring content alive with augmented reality at the Natural History Museum's Darwin Centre. The public audience can now view a new interactive film which shows enhanced and individualised content through the medium of bespoke hand held touchscreen devices, designed by IVC.

The film, entitled 'Who do you think you really are?' features a unique film making technology allowing Sir David Attenborough to take the audience on a virtual journey back through our evolutionary past, to where extinct creatures will appear to roam around in the studio. By simply moving the interactive hand held touch screen,individuals in the Attenborough Studio auditorium can effectively interact with the environment from their perspective.

The augmented reality effect has been achieved with the use of three independent screens, web cams and the implementation of 80 LED markers located around the theatre allowing the viewing angle of the hand held touch-screens to be detected and an image rendered on the individual screens, which alters depending on how the device is moved.

The individual handsets also allow the audience to send images to screens around the studio, interact with Museum scientists, play with virtual specimens and take part in quizzes. Through the handheld device individuals can also see the augmented reality projected into the studio in real time so that an intricate tree of life appears to move within the studio itself.

The processing power required for 74 people to view the augmented reality individually at the same time, along with the ability to send data back to the audience, is significant. So to meet this challenge each hand held touch-screen is connected to its own dedicated computer, totally integrated within the control room, to ensure the temperature in the studio remains constant and noise is kept to a minimum.

As the systems integrator and lead contractor on the project, IVC Technologies worked along with key manufacturers and consultants including: Cultural Innovations, Melfords, Panasonic, Medialon, Bose, Adder, Dell, Haivision and Paradigm, to develop and integrate a unique facility which is essentially a broadcast studio and presentation suite in one. With the addition of augmented reality, shown on IVC Technologies's bespoke designed touch-screen devices, this project now leads the way in educational presentational technology enabling scientists within the Darwin Centre research labs to present their work to the general public in a way which has never been seen before.