3d Models & Augmented Reality

A longer post will follow with details, but I’m so pleased with the results I’m putting some stuff up right now. In my first year seminar class on digital antiquity which just ended, we’ve been experimenting with 123D Catch to make models of materials conserved at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (thanks Terry & Matt!). Our end of term project was to take these models, and think through ways of using them to open up the hidden museum to a wider public. We wondered if we could get these models onto people’s smartphones, as a kind of augmented reality (we settled on Junaio).

The students researched the artefacts, wrote up a booklet, and had it printed. They made the models, taking the photos, cleaning up in Meshlab, making videos and all the other sundry tasks necessary to the project. We ran out of time though with regard to the augmented reality part. By the end of term, we only had one model that was viewable on a smartphone. Today I added the rest of the materials to our ‘channel’ on Junaio, and tested it on the booklet.

It was magic. I was so excited, I ran around campus, trying to find people who I could show it to, who would appreciate it (nothing kills a buzz like showing off work to people who don’t really appreciate it, yet smile politely as you trail off…)

More about our workflow and the tacit knowledge necessary to make this all work will follow. In the image below, a model sits on the booklet on my desk. Handsome devil, eh?

Simple Omeka to Wikitude Hack

I’m working on some projects at the moment, aiming to make augmented reality and cultural heritage discovery easier and gentler for the small scale historical society, student groups, etc: folks with a basic level of web literacy, but no real great level of programming skills.

To that end, here’s something one can do with Omeka, to push items from its database into the Wikitude augmented reality platform.

  1. In Omeka, have the Geolocation plugin installed and working.
  2. Navigate to http://[your omeka site.com]/geolocation/map.kml
  3. You should see the xml structure of your geolocated items.
  4. In a new tab, go to wikitude.me, and sign up for a developer account (it’s free).
  5. Click ‘add new world’.
  6. Click ‘upload KML file’.
  7. Fill in all required fields (you’ll have to create a 32 by 32 pixel icon to serve as a dot-on-the-map, and upload that too).
  8. Under ‘KML/KMZ’ file, click on ‘Enter KML URL’. This will give you a box into which you may paste the URL from #2.
  9. Hit save.

If you’re successful, the next screen will tell you how many points have been uploaded. If, at some later point you’ve added many more items to Omeka, you’ll have to go back to your World in Wikitude and hit save again, to upload the most recent stuff.

Now, with Wikitude on your phone, you might not be able to find your world right away. There’s a solution. If you log back into the Wikitude developer zone, and click on the world you just created, you’ll find a string of letters under ‘developer key’. On your Iphone, go to ‘settings’ , select ‘Wikitude’. Under ‘Developer Settings’, there’s a box for the developer key. Enter that developer key there. Start Wikitude up, refresh the display, and your items from Omeka will be under ‘Around Me’.

…And there you have it. Right now, this just does the basic text descriptions, and the location. By fiddling with the Geolocation plugin code, one might be able to add the other information that Wikitude can display, like images, video, audio, etc.

For a similar approach, but directly from Google Maps, see this video by drmonkeyjcg: