Canterbury Museum

Augmented reality technology brings artefacts to life

Posted: 28 September 2009

Canterbury Museum is bringing early Māori artefacts in its Ngā Taonga gallery to life with the aid of augmented reality technology.  Developed by Christchurch company MindSpace Solutions, in association with HITLabNZ, the technology is housed in a coin-operated binocular station which visitors use to view the gallery. When the viewer focuses on certain objects they become animated and the visitor sees a story about that object.   

Canterbury Museum Director, Anthony Wright, said “We are always interested in exploring new ways of incorporating technology into our displays to allow us to enhance the Museum experience for our visitors.”

“The augmented reality experience installed in the Ngā Taonga gallery brings the energy of the stories and legends behind these objects to life in a way that is both compelling and authentic.”

To create the augmented reality station for Canterbury Museum, Eric Woods, Managing Director of MindSpace Solutions, worked closely with Museum staff and Māori artists Rua Paul and Rachael Rakena to ensure the experience was accurate and true to the heritage of the objects. “Our aim was to add a deeper layer of context and understanding to the artefacts, how were they made, how were they used or experienced in their original environment, and what stories or legends are associated with them. This is an ideal use for the 3D digital binocular station - the first of its kind in the world”.

Augmented reality technology involves a view of the real world being augmented with virtual 3D objects. Virtual Reality is a similar concept, but differs in that it places the user in a completely virtual world with no indication of reality. Many people prefer augmented reality because the connection to the real world is retained, which has many benefits.

The binocular station in Canterbury Museum’s Ngā Taonga gallery costs $2.00 per session. Canterbury Museum is located on Rolleston Avenue in Christchurch’s Cultural Precinct. General admission is free; donations are appreciated.