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Interaction Techniques

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Interaction Techniques for Exploring Historic Sites through Situated Media Sinem Güven Steven Feiner Department of Computer Science, Columbia University ABSTRACTWe present a set of augmented reality and virtual reality inter-action techniques that enable mobile users to visualize and inter-act virtually with representations of past events. These approaches use historic photographic imagery registered with real and virtual 3D objects to depict events in situ, and to provide interactive timelines. We demonstrate our techniques through examples de-veloped for an important landmark, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. CR Categories: H.5.1 [Information Interfaces and Presenta-tion]: Multimedia Information Systems—Artificial, augmented, and virtual realities; H.5.2 [Information Interfaces and Presen-tation]: User Interfaces—Graphical user interfaces (GUI), Inter-action styles. Keywords: Augmented reality, virtual reality, situated media, 3D animation. 1 INTRODUCTION Augmented Reality (AR) [2, 7] enhances a user’s perception of their surroundings by combining the physical world with a com-plementary virtual world. AR thus provides an especially effec-tive way to present augmented real and virtual objects. Virtual Reality (VR) immerses the user in a 3D computer-generated world and allows them to navigate and interact with it. VR therefore offers the possibility of exploring objects and locations that may no longer exist, or may be too distant to reach conveniently. By overlaying a user interface on the world through AR or cre-ating a self-contained world in VR, we can offer context-sensitive information to users. Being able to visualize information in its actual location and context is a powerful notion—the user does not need to perform extensive search, and their mere presence at a given location can provide the relevant information. To explore this concept further, we have developed interaction techniques that enable users to interact with and visualize repre-sentations of past events at historic sites. Our techniques rely on carefully registering and superimposing a set of images on the user’s view of real or virtual objects, such as a 3D model of a historic site, as shown in Figure 1. These augmentations can then act as background references, provide additional detail not present in the original model, or depict scenes from important events that took place at the site. In this paper, we demonstrate these tech-niques using a database developed for an important landmark, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. 2 RELATED WORK The Aspen Movie Map Project [13] provides a video-disk–based travel simulation through the streets of Aspen. To create its database, four cameras were mounted on a car at 90° angles to film a complete traversal of the city’s streets. The scenes re- corded by these cameras were later indexed and used to simulate vicarious travel down any street. The application also enabled users to visualize the buildings as they were years ago (using texture-mapped historic photographs), receive guided tours, see maps of the city, and leave trails to find their ways around. Figure 1. Augmenting the world with situated media. (a) Texture-mapped 3D cathedral model. (b) The same model with superimposed augmenting picture. e-mail: {sinem, feiner}@cs.columbia.eduFlyAbout [11] uses spatially indexed panoramic video to create interactive applications for VR. The system uses a moving 360° camera to capture panoramic video. Unlike traditional video ap-plications, FlyAbout enables users to interactively replay the captured video, and navigate to interesting objects and locations through spatial indexing. Our system differs from these applications by using AR and VR as the presentation medium instead of video. Integrating in-formation with the physical world not only provides information in context [18], but also makes it possible to interact with the user’s surroundings as part of the application. Stoev and colleagues [20] present a toolset for visualizing his-torical events. Using table-top VR, they make it possible to view a scene from different view points, to watch events happening at different times, and to interactively view more than one event and location of interest. They use the 1525 Peasant War in Germany as an application scenario, and display historical data describing the peasants’ migrations and battles. While this system can be used to get a better understanding of the events that took place in the past, the material presented is limited to textual information that the user encounters as they navigate within the virtual envi-ronment to explore the historical scene. In contrast, our system uses 3D media augmentations and animations, presented through AR and VR, to visualize past events. The situated documentaries of Höllerer and colleagues [10] use AR to provide the illusion of traveling back in time. For example, 3D models of buildings that no longer exist are overlaid in situ to provide mobile users with an understanding of how their sur-roundings looked in the past. Our work on the MARS Authoring Tool [8, 9] provides end-user authoring facilities for situated documentaries, which we have applied to create hypermedia sto-ries about the history of the Columbia campus. Similarly, LIFE-PLUS [23] is a mobile AR tour guide application that offers per-sonalized guided tours of historic Pompeii; in addition to story-telling capabilities, it also uses AR to virtually reconstruct ruins. The work we describe in this paper takes a different approach from these projects. Instead of vicariously traveling back in time, we provide augmentations that are designed to help users browse through and gain a better understanding of past events. Users can not only explore historic images using our interactive timelines, but can view visualizations of events that took place at the site. Another approach to enabling users to experience scenes from the past as they explore their surroundings relies on mounted telescope-like devices such as the AR Telescope [3], Telescope [15] and Augurscope [16]. The techniques we describe here could also work with these systems. Shiaw and colleagues developed the 3D Vase Museum [17], in which a virtual collection of vases is positioned in a grid on the floor of a virtual museum, organized by year in one dimension and historical type in the other. While this work


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