The Future Meets The Past
Virtual reality may be a technology of the future, however last week the Metropolitan Museum in New York managed to combine the future with the past, as they provided an interactive experience that enhanced how visitors interpreted art in its many forms; walking across highly magnified paintings, painting 3D worlds or playing an 18th century piano, these were just some of the digital experiences delivered by the MET.
Designed as an initiative to allow the next generation of art fans to appreciate the classic masterpieces hosted in the MET, the museum goers were presented with several technology focused interactive experiences, including virtual reality, social networking and table top gaming as media prototypes that could be used to interact with objects in the collection. Furthermore, gamers were right at home with the world of “MetCraft: Antiquity Adventure”, a Minecraft inspired map that showcased several of the most famous rooms within the met, including the Great Hall, the Greek and Roman wing, the Egyptian wing and the Temple of Dendur. Information provided directly from the tour of the actual museum spaces was delivered in an interactive form via the game, and players could explore the rooms and objects virtually. These new projects were created by the Met Digital Department and Met MediaLab, in collaboration with graduate students at the New York University Game Center.
Further digital experiences brought to visitors was the ‘Met Music app’, which allowed users to take turns playing notes recorded from the oldest surviving hammer-action piano – crafted by Bartolomeo Cristofori in 1720 — on their mobile phones. By enabling the visitors to play the notes at different volumes, it emulated the novel hammer mechanism which allowed musicians to modulate the volume of a struck key in the 18th century.
A New Form Of Art
Using the HTC Vive virtual-reality set, paired with the latest Google art program Tilt Brush, users were able to design their own immersive artwork in virtual reality space. Players utilised the handheld controllers to virtually paint strokes that were suspended in 3D space, using a range of tools, textures, brushes and colours that simulated ink, paper, taffy, fire and sparkling stars to name a few.
For visitors who favoured the design of traditional art, “Paint Walker” gave them the opportunity to experience these up close, with a unique virtual tour of the artwork from a highly magnified surface of their favourite paintings. A reproduction of Vincent VanGogh’s outstanding ‘Sunflower Paintings’ was scanned at high resolutions and loaded into Paint Walker for users to explore in virtual reality or on a conventional display using a game controller. With the ability to zoom in and out of the painting, the textures became like a mountain range, with a cratered landscape to run and jump across.
How VR May Impact Video Conferencing
Virtual Reality has the potential to be a hugely disruptive advancement in technology for the video conferencing industry. One of the key aims of video conferencing technology is to place users in the room with their teams through video and achieve a sense of presence; Virtual Reality technology is the perfect tool to further achieve this goal. Imagine a meeting where you could walk around the table, and place documents in front of other users digitally in a virtual space. Imagine seeing intricate projects up close in 3D space, and being able to walk around and inspect the work from all angles, or taking a meeting from home, but seeing the office and all of your colleagues. The ability to collaborate in virtual space could greatly change the video conferencing landscape, and with Lifesize operating at the cutting edge of technology, this is a space worth watching.