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6 Further Developments

Further innovations have been explored within the project to give better textures and tactile qualities such as weight and more personal interactions but these raise many other issues which require fuller discussion elsewhere [17].

The results from the comparison between the two interfaces indicated that the haptic device prototype provides a less complex sensation of the artefact. However, there is ample scope for the use of haptic devices within this setup if the interaction mechanism is enriched with dynamic elements and other modalities, for example with sound feedback, extra touchable geometry, explanations, and texture all of which can be dynamic, personalized information. While this can be equally possible with the replica (e.g. by using depth cameras to calculate the hands position), the implementation through a haptic device is much easier and cost-effective.

Another development that is particularly for the haptic device prototype is to use the interface with museum artefacts that have missing parts as the device can be used to feel the invisible missing piece. In addition, a draw function can be implemented through which users can draw extra geometry. In [9] an early research on this process is presented, and the Virtual Showcase [3] that was mentioned in the literature review also allows the presentation of stereoscopic images overlaid on top of real objects. We envisage that this study will have numerous applications in museum research as well as learning.

7 Conclusion

We have presented a novel haptic interaction paradigm which gives the impression of direct haptic interaction with museum artefacts in their display cases. The prototypes solve the problem of technology taking focus from the artefact as attention is not on a graphic display or replica but the real artefact itself. The approach was tested in a real Museum environment and was found to provide enhanced engagement with a real precious artefact. Compared to the digital prototype, the non-digital conveyed richer sensory information about the artefact during interaction. However, the digital interface offers the opportunity for easily adding extra interactive elements that can enhance immersion. While much remains to be done, our work shows that the technique we developed has the potential of becoming a useful way of evoking multimodal embodied exploration of intangible artefacts, with significant educative and economic advantages for museums and similar exhibition and learning spaces.

Acknowledgements. The research reported here was part of the Science and Heritage programme and used funding from EPSRC-AHRC as part of for a network cluster grant Touching the Untouchable and an AHRC development grant on Touching the Past both led by Linda Hurcombe; Mark Wright was CI on the latter. The research could not have happened without the substantial commitment and support shown by Dr Alison Sheridan (Principal Curator of Early Prehistory) of National Museums Scotland who came to the first workshop, hosted the second and who was involved in all the trials reported here. She facilitated access to the Lewis chess pieces case, arranged permissions and dealt with numerous practical and conceptual issues. The Orkney Museum staff also hosted the trial and we particularly thank Sheila Wilson, and Janette Park as curators as well as project researchers Lynda Aiano and Penny Cunningham. Dr Ian Summers (Physics, Exeter) particularly developed the idea of using peppers ghost alongside the authors listed here and used them in another project installation. He, together with his former research student Dr Matt Philpott contributed to the success of the public trials of all of the installations.

 
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