Moverio Augmented Reality glasses create immersive experience at Brescia

This not a traditional museum

Moverio Augmented Reality glasses create immersive experience at Brescia

The Museum of Santa Giulia is a UNESCO world heritage site using Moverio smart glasses and Augmented Reality to create 3D reconstructions of the ruins for visitors to experience the Roman landscape.

Santa Giulia Museum brings archaeology to life with Epson AR glasses

Epson Moverio smart glasses bring an enriched visitor experience to an historic UNESCO World Heritage site.

Situated in Italy’s northern Lombardy region, The Santa Giulia Museum is a former Catholic monastery in the city of Brescia. The site is dedicated to archaeology, history and fine arts and covers 14,000 m2. It showcases Italian history through the centuries and also forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes a number of significant architectural structures and archaeological ruins that date from the Roman Age up to the 8th century.

Getting closer to history

Epson Moverio smart glasses are being used at three different locations across the site to create interactive and immersive visitor experiences that were unachievable using static printed images and text. Francesca Morandini, Archaeological Curator for the Municipality of Brescia and Brescia Musei Foundation, talks about the challenges of showcasing rich historical content in a suitable context. She explains how the use of Epson Moverio smart glasses have transformed visitor experiences at the Domus dell’Ortaglia, an exhibit that allows visitors to walk on platforms above the protected remains of Roman dwellings,

“They see some rooms with mosaic floors, with frescos on the wall, but the rooms are empty and it’s difficult for people to understand how the rooms were used originally. We can explain this area thanks to drawings and texts for visitors, but the archaeological site has a lot more to tell. Thanks to the [Epson Moverio] AR glasses, it’s possible for us to overlap the 3D [digital] reconstruction onto the real ruins so people can see the landscape changing around them and they feel as if they were in ancient times”.

This whole experience is made possible thanks to Epson Moverio’s accurate inbuilt motion-tracking sensors and high-quality camera, allowing wearers of the glasses to see virtual reconstructions of the dwellings in real time, created using data extracted from archaeological excavations. Due to the protected status of the ruins, visitors are not allowed to walk at ground level, so the smart glasses provide a unique opportunity for visitors to explore the ruins in closer detail than was previously possible.

Exhibition visitor Maria was impressed by her first experience using augmented reality (AR) smart glasses, commenting, “The glasses are easy to wear. It’s a really immersive experience that’s beautiful because it allows you to travel back to the Roman age”.

An award-winning AR experience

The first AR tour at the museum, the ‘Brixia Time Machine’ located at an outdoor site containing the remains of the former ancient Roman town of Brixia, proved to be a great success, winning the Golden Prize at AVICOM’s F@IMP 2.0 awards in 2016. Following this, the AR tours were expanded to the Domus dell’Ortaglia and more recently the Basilica of San Salvatore in 2019.

At this site, the smart glasses’ GPS sensor allows wearers to journey through the Basilica, stopping at location markers on the floor. At each marker, visual reconstructions and narrated animations allow the wearer to learn more about key architectural and archaeological features which span from the Roman to the Medieval era. The advanced gyroscopic and accelerometer sensors embedded in the glasses ensure that the tracking is consistent, adaptive and smooth, resulting in a comfortable experience for the wearer. The application of AR enables visitors to see key elements virtually restored in their natural and original locations, a feat impossible to achieve using fixed signage installations that would be restricted due to the building's World Heritage status.

Giovanni and Silvia took the AR tour and were impressed by the ability of the glasses to provide such an immersive experience,

Silvia commented, “It’s beautiful. The reconstruction of the archaeological work was truly fantastic”, whilst Giovanni added, “It takes you back to the purity of the period and the people can see the landscape changing around them”.

Wearable AR means greater immersion

ARtGlass, the company responsible for developing the content for the museum’s AR experiences, started prototyping the software on tablets and smartphones, but quickly came to realise that only wearables would allow them to create the truly immersive experiences that they were trying to achieve.

The Epson Moverio smart glasses’ lightweight, compact and unrestrictive design proved to be a “terrific” solution, enabling ARtGlass to develop a solution that allows visitors to enjoy the experience without feeling burdened or restricted by technology.

Based on a survey conducted at the museum, 95% of visitors who took part in an AR tour using Epson Moverio smart glasses said they were able to solely focus on the experience itself, without identifying any problems with the glasses.

Bridging the generation gap

Antonio Scuderi, ARtGlass CEO, also points out AR is a way to attract new audiences, and widen the appeal of archaeology and historical sites,

“From the very beginning we knew there was a problem making traditional cultural sites attractive for younger generations”.

Scuderi concludes that the Moverio glasses have benefits that appeal to all types of visitors,

“When it comes to cultural tourists, you need to have a device which is comfortable, a technology which enhances the tourists’ experiences whilst visiting a cultural site, it has to turn into something beautiful and natural, and that is Epson Moverio”.

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