Personal Experience with
Active Cultural Heritage


Contact Person:
Ivana Alfaro
Via Sommarive 18
Povo - Trento
38050 Italy
ph: +39.0461.314.596
fax: +39.0461.314.501

Who's Involved
PEACH, Personal Experience with Active Cultural Heritage, is a project financed by the Autonomous Province of Trento, Italy and is coordinated, under the directorship of Oliviero Stock, by ITC-irst. Also involved in the project are DFKI, the German institute for Artificial Intelligence research directed by Wolfgang Wahlster, and a number of collaborators including the Cybernetic Institute of Napoli, CNR, the Superintendent of Ercolano and Pompei Excavations, the University of Columbia in New York, the National Research Council of Canada, and the University of Padova. The Castello del Buonconsiglio in Trento, and the Saarbrucken Volklinger Huette Museum of Metallurgic Industry, sponsored by UNESCO, form the test beds for the research conducted within the project as well as for the prototypes developed.

Press Release of the First Year Showcase

How and Why PEACH
The project's objective for the first year, as well as for the remaining of its duration, is that of studying and experimenting with advanced technologies that can enhance the appreciation of cultural institutions and works of art found therein. In particular, the main scope involves creating systems that encompass artificial intelligence technology and Microsystems capable of rendering a museum visit more interesting and engaging. Part of the project involves the development of a type of personal guide that can accompany an individual during a museum visit and subsequently adjust the delivery of information to the visitor's interest.
Many obstacles exist that undermine a visitor's ability to fully appreciate the works of art fund in cultural institutions. Some of these include inadequate structures in which the objects may be exhibited and restrictions imposed for the protection of the art works themselves. Visitors can further lack the basic knowledge, historic or artistic, necessary for better appreciating the value derived from a museum visit. PEACH intends to address these and other problems related to the appreciation of cultural heritage. Various instruments will be developed that are capable of linking works of art, on their own passive, with active information that can be discerned and presented in a personalized manner to each visitor.

The Demos
During January 2003--the end of the first year of the project--a showcase was organized at the Castello del Buonconsiglio, with some prototypes of the various instruments developed for museum visits. Among these, a multimedia guide of Torre Aquila (Aquila Tower) was demonstrated. The guide was created on a PDA, which by means of infrared sensors is capable of identifying its position within the frescoed Tower of the castle. Once the particular wall of the fresco facing the visitor has been identified, the guide delivers a video clip synchronized with an audio presentation of the pertaining details. In this manner, the visitor is free to explore the entire area by traveling through the fresco in the order he or she chooses, while leaving the responsibility of selecting the appropriate video clip to the system.

Demonstrations made at Torre Aquila:

  • Multimedia Guide based on cinematographic techniques: A demonstration was made on a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) capable of identifying the user's location and consequently providing an automatically generated video clip of the fresco in front of the visitor.
  • Multimedia Guide with animated characters: A PDA able to identify the user's location in Torre Aquila provided information about the fresco by means of an animated character that serves as a "host" and guides the user during the visit.
  • Vocal interaction at a non-invasive distance: The prototype allows the user to verbally interact with the system without a microphone immediately nearby. While the user poses questions to the system via verbal commands, the system responds by means of a localized spatial audio system that does not disturb other visitors in the area.

    Simulations and other demonstrations:

  • Simulation of group movements within a museum: The prototype consists of a 3D environment that permits the study of the behavior of group visitors. This technology will be used in the second part of the project in order to develop localization algorithms and tracking of single as well as group visitors.
  • Video reconstruction of Torre Aquila: The demonstration consisted in a reconstruction of Torre Aquila done with photogrammetry technology. The 3D model will be used during the second part of the project to construct an interactive visit.
  • Interactive techniques for information presentation in an artistic environment: The demonstration includes various techniques that aid the visitor in the reading of a work of art, with particular examples taken from the Cycle of the Months in Torre Aquila.