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Will the Internet provide access to long lost art treasures?

visit museumEvery once in a while I like to blog about some really cool things technology allows us to do. This is one of those times. Not long ago I was perusing Twitter when I saw a tweet about a museum designed to let people see works of art that have been stolen or destroyed.

Naturally, I wanted to know how that was possible, and how I could have a look. It turns out a student at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, Ziv Schneider, created the Museum of Stolen Art for a student project. And she did it entirely in virtual reality.

For anyone who was involved in computing in the early 1990’s, the term “virtual reality” probably is a bit loaded. At that time, experts predicted virtual reality would change the world in just a few short years. But the dream was too ambitious. People back then weren’t ready to buy into such technology, and the computer hardware was too expensive for consumers. What a difference a couple of decades make!

It appears that now we may be on the verge of virtual reality revolution, and Schneider’s school project is just one example of what’s to come. She focused on finding images of art that had been stolen from museums, or looted during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. She took the images and placed them onto the walls of her virtual museum, in simple frames lining multiple hallways. In an article on Wired.com, she said she wanted the experience to feel as if you were actually walking through the halls of a museum.

You can watch a video about the project, with some demonstrations of the museum itself, on the website http://mosa.ziv.bz/.  But to visit the museum, you’ll need to use a piece of hardware with an awkward facemask, or headset, with a stereoscopic screen. The demonstration version of the project used a headset called the Oculus Rift and a Playstation controller

The Oculus Rift is actually the product that may transform virtual reality into our common place reality – much like mobile phones changed how we communicate. And you’ll have the chance to stream the virtual reality over the Internet. But more about that in the next blog…

Oliver Burt

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