wAVE Immersive Experiences in Museums

The wAVE (AVE = Augmented and Virtual Experiences) Immersive Experiences in Museums Project is funded by the Coastal Communities Fund. The project brings together Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’s coastal communities, heritage centres and academic experts to develop new and engaging virtual, augmented and immersive reality experiences within the five participating communities of Bude, Looe, St Agnes, Porthcurno and the Isles of Scilly.

wAVE has been developed by Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, Cornwall Museums Partnership, and Falmouth University. It aims to use Cornwall’s distinctive heritage to support digital innovation and economic diversification in five coastal communities by maximising Cornwall’s digital infrastructure, skills, and heritage for the benefit of the local economy.

The county’s distinct history coupled with its growing immersive-tech sector, presents a unique opportunity to position Cornwall at the forefront of the transformative potential of such technology.

This film gives an insight into the inception and impact of the project so far:

wAVE follows three strands:

Digital Revival – Innovative technologies developed with Falmouth University’s research experts – such as VR headsets, HD projection, CGI and more – will allow visitors to explore heritage sites, see artefacts in their original settings and meet historical figures in new immersive visitor experiences.

Human-Centred Design – Working with staff, volunteers, and communities to ensure that the experiences meet the needs of their future users.

Impact and Legacy – wAVE will raise the profile of Cornwall’s unique culture and heritage offer. Local communities will be involved in a programme of digital training to allow wider tourism businesses to harness the opportunity presented by immersive technology. Allowing local people to add value to their businesses through future-proofing their offer by differentiating their product, becoming more visible and accessing new virtual experiences to entice new visitors.

You can check out the wAVE Impact Report here for more in-depth information about the project, its partners, case studies, achievements, and objectives for the future.

 

The Experiences:

The heritage of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is extraordinarily rich but is at times under-promoted and inaccessible. wAVE seeks to redress this by bringing together technologists, research experts, creative industries and local community networks to take visitors on an interactive and immersive journey into the past, presenting new opportunities for year-round international and domestic tourism.

The augmented and mixed reality experiences have been co-developed with the five participating communities to interpret the areas’ diverse cultural heritage in new ways. The aim is to provide enjoyable, contemporary and inclusive virtual experiences which will strengthen the local economies.

This means the experiences are not only very different to each other but also deeply connected with the museums, their collections, and the local area. Here is a quick overview:

Porthcurno

As visitors explore the valley and beach in Porthcurno they can download the mobile treasure trail app to find out more about the global telecommunications history of the valley. As visitors explore Porthcurno, the app will utilise beacons to alert them when they are closer or further away from points on the trail. When they are close enough to each beacon, audio, archival photographs, and information will pop up on their phone with information about the history of the valley. When they have collected all the points on the trail, they will receive an animation of the first cable being laid on Porthcurno beach as well as discounted entry to the museum.

St. Agnes

St. Agnes Museum has created a Virtual Reality experience, where visitors can see how the harbour once looked when it was a bustling centre of the mining industry. The harbour, complete with people, arriving ships, and more, has been thoroughly researched and re-created to look as it would have in 1900. In keeping with Covid-19 regulations Cleanboxes, which use UV light to kill bacteria and viruses including Covid-19, will be used to sterilise the VR headset between visitors.

Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly Museum has created a mobile-based walking companion app that offers an interactive way to experience the heritage of the inhabited Scilly Isles. As the museum is currently closed, visitors can use this as an alternative way to engage with the collections and islands’ heritage. The app is GPS-activated to negate the lack of mobile signal on each island so that, while visitors are walking , visual and audio content about some of the many shipwrecks that have happened pop up on their phone – including 3D models of some of the related collections items.

Bude

Bude has created a VR game that gives visitors the chance to experience guiding a ketch down into Bude’s canal for themselves. This is an interactive experience, where a real ship’s wheel acts as the controller for the VR headset. There are two playing stations, one of which is designed to be wheel-chair accessible. Cleanboxes, which use UV light to kill bacteria and viruses including Covid-19, will sterilise the VR headsets between visitors.

Looe

Looe’s Augmented Reality experience will follow the imagined journey of a monk and a pilgrim on Looe island, which was once home to a Benedictine chapel built in 1139. Within the museum, visitors will use tablets to hover over points on a 3D wooden map of the island to activate projected scenes from the story. They can choose characters to talk to as they find out more about the monks who lived on the island, whilst collecting ingredients to create a tincture for a fellow sea-sick pilgrim.

 

The project, known as ‘Coastal TimeTripping’, has its own website, an Instagram account @CoastalTimetripping, and a trailer which you can see below. The experiences will be opened to the public in Spring 2021 when it is safe to do so regarding Covid-19 and government guidance.