SBIR Phase I: Site Toolkit for Augmented Reality Exhibits: Bringing Easy-To-Use Augmented Reality to Open Air Museum Sites

Period of Performance: 01/01/2016 - 06/30/2016

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

CHI Systems, Inc.
2250 Hickory Road Suite 150
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

This SBIR Phase I project provides tools and methods for open air cultural heritage and environmental education sites to deploy augmented reality (AR) based exhibits. AR is an established technology that can bring educational material to life. However, the museum industry has been unable to tap into its full potential because AR installations are technically challenging to implement, requiring the purchase of expensive hardware and use of highly skilled technical staff to create and deploy the content. This project provides a software tool suite designed to enable cultural heritage and environmental education sites to more quickly, easily, and cost-effectively create and deploy AR exhibits than is currently possible. AR exhibits developed using these tools will enable institutions to deploy engaging virtual exhibits with dynamic geospatially-based content at locations in which deploying traditional interpretive content is extremely difficult. This in turn will provide NSF funded research projects with the ability to disseminate their latest research results to the public in a timely and easily deployable fashion. Making AR use practical will lead to more engaging exhibits, generating greater visitor enthusiasm and learning which will, in turn, produce more visitors, larger donations, and create jobs within the Museum industry focused on developing AR exhibits. This project will produce content creation and viewing software and a business model designed to provide cost effective creation, deployment, and maintenance of Augmented Reality (AR) exhibits. The toolkit will be comprised of four technological components: a mobile viewer application running on iOS and Android, a content delivery server, a web based exhibit intelligence tool designed to monitor the use of the exhibit, and a web based content creation system with automated functions for authoring and checking material. The business model is designed to make AR exhibits revenue neutral or profit generating by sharing the income generated from the viewer application sales. Together these elements create a new approach to implementing augmented reality in open air museums that is designed to overcome the major issues limiting the practical use of AR by these institutions. Phase I of this project will concentrate on the development of the mobile viewer application and the exhibit intelligence tool. A prototype exhibit will also be developed for testing in Phase II. The experience gained from creating the content for this exhibit will guide the requirements and interface of the content creation software to be developed in Phase II.