Virtual reality is helping people tour the world’s most remote and inaccessible historical sites

A Native American tribe in California got a chance to reconnect with their past through virtual reality models of inaccessible, sacred sites. We often associate virtual reality with thrilling experiences we may never be able to have in real life such as flying a jet fighter, exploring the oceans or going on a spacewalk. But researchers are also starting to use this technology to study and open up access to archaeological sites that are difficult to get to. An archaeological site can be inaccessible for a range of reasons. It might be in a remote location or on private property, the archaeological remains may be fragile, or it might just be difficult or dangerous to get there. Just over an hours drive north from Los Angeles is theWind Wolves Preserve. At nearly 100,000 acres, the preserve protects a wide range of endangered and threatened species in the heart of the most populous state in the US. It also hosts two remote archaeological sites situated in the San Emigdio Hills.Pleito, one of the most elaborately painted rock-art sites in the world, andCache Cave, with one of the most significant in-situ collections of perishable objects, including baskets, ever discovered in the American West. The oldest of the rock paintings and baskets appear to be over 2,000-years-old. However, exploring it is problematic. The paintings at Pleito, found on exfoliating sandstone, are extremely fragile. Meanwhile, the Cache Cave is a complex, narrow cave system. Creating a virtual reality prototype of the Cache cave. Devlin Gandy, Author provided Yet these sites are of great cultural importance to local Native Americans, especially theTejon Indian Tribe. The hands of some of their ancestors painted the rock art, while other highly skilled basket makers worked for hours on making some of the worlds finest basketry. Until recently, the majority of the Tejon tribes people were unable to visit the Pleito cave site due to its inaccessibility and fragility. Now our team of researchers from the University of Central Lancashire in the UK has created a VR model of the sites. We did this by taking images with a digital camera and performing laser scanning of the site. Using reality capture techniques likephotogrammetry which helps make measurements from photographs we could then develop a VR prototype. We tested the prototype at the offices of the Wind Wolves Preserve and the Tejon tribe, respectively, in the summer of 2017. The response was profound, with younger tribal members responding particularly well in an environment similar to gaming. Equally, the simulation proved effective for use by the elder members of the tribe, some of whom have mobility issues visiting the preserve and its rugged terrain. We also tested the software at the actual site of Pleito with the Tejon Indians. Two tribal members who could not make the climb to the cave instead used the VR headset on flat ground nearby. This allowed them to experience the environment and to be in the landscape while still exploring the paintings. This, as far as we are aware, was the first time Native Americans have used VR in the field to reconnect with their own past. The research provides an innovative platform for tribal members to engage with sites and practices no longer in living memory as a form of cultural restoration. Importantly, it also provides an effective way to engage young tribal members within ancestral spaces and practices. As well as opening access to remote archaeological sites, we are now able to construct what we term an enhanced reality experience. Cutting edge archaeological image processing techniques such asDStretchandReflective Transformation Imagingcan be used to overlay digitally enhanced textures directly over the cave geometry. This allows people to view details of the site that are difficult to see with the naked eye. DStretch textures help reveal hidden detail in the cave artwork. Author provided For example, researchinvestigating pigment recipesused within the different layers of painting on the site helped us to display the separation of the layers on the cave. It also enabled us to show the site as it would have looked through different points in time. This really shows how VR simulations of archaeological sites can offer unique ways to experience, engage and explore scientific data. Research opportunities As a visualisation tool, new opportunities are now arising to use immersive technologies like VR to conduct research. Innovative work at theAllosphere a facility at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which helps make visual representations of data has enabled researchers to analyse multiple data sets in ways not previously possible. In our work in California, we are investigating how to use VR to help field research by using immersive reconstructions of previous seasons excavations to aid in new ones as we dig deeper within the cave deposits. That way, we can actually see previous layers that we have removed and better contextualise the new layers we are exposing. The technology can also be of great use in teaching. We are sharing the models of the Californian sites with our archaeology and anthropology students, offering unique and novel opportunity to explore the rock art, handle and inspect the baskets and even use native technologies such as the bow and arrow. VR technologies are starting to open up remote access to other sites around the world too. From the British Museumsdocumentation of African rock art sitesto theScan Pyramids Projectopening access to the iconic monuments of Giza, to an immersive interaction with Nikola Tesla and hislaboratory, the application of immersive technologies are proliferating across the globe. The most creative of these projects include scientific information to make them more than simple replications enhanced learning environments where scientific knowledge can inform the public about the past. Excitingly, this offers entirely new ways to learn from old sites, without damaging them. Brendan Cassidy, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, University of Central Lancashire andDavid Robinson, Reader in Archaeology, University of Central Lancashire. This article first appeared onThe Conversation.

VR Shopping Comes To Vera Bradley Brand

Want the in-store shopping experience but dont want to leave the comfort of your own home? From this week youll be able to easily visit a Vera Bradley store virtually thanks to Google Daydream. Tech startup Obsess has partnered with the womens handbags, luggage, and travel items brand to produce a new VR shopping experience for the mobile headset which should launch in America this week. In it, shoppers will find themselves inside one of Vera Bradleys retail locations, which they can explore using teleportation. Using the Daydreams remote, theyll be able to select items to see more information about them. Some elements of the store will be interactive, too. A set of bed sheets, for example, can be changed over with the click of a button. Youll be able to purchase items you select, or save them for later. If you dont have a Daydream then a WebVR version of the app will also go live at an official site, and 10 sites across the US will also be showing off the experience in VR from tomorrow. Source from:

10 best Google Street View galleries ever

Hello everybody! In this post weve collected all the bestGoogle Street View gallerieswith plenty of amazing virtual tours of absolutely different world places. Mostof the panoramas are just breathtaking! Enjoy it! 1.UNESCO World HeritageA World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as being of special cultural or physical significance. Visit the wonders of world, the greatest buildings and nature places of different countries. 2.Remote Islands of the WorldView the worlds most remote and isolated islands. The collection includes islands of the Chagos Marine Reserve (Indian Ocean), La Martinique (Carribbean), Pitcairns (Pacific), the Papahaumokuakea Marine National Monument (Pacific) and plenty of others. 3.Animals and WildlifeEnjoy these images of animals in their natural habitats around the world. 4.OceansInconceivable submarine world collection of all the oceans of this planet.PlaywithSea Lions, spy on small exotic fish, swim with dolphins and feel the energy of the main force of the Earth oceans. 5.The Worlds Highest PeaksThe collection of Worlds Highest Peaks maps multiple bases along the Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in Africa. Other features include Mount Elbrus inRussia, and the Buddhist Tengboche Monastery nestled in the Sagarmatha National Park. 6.Ski Resorts and SlopesFind yourself going down from the mountain skiing and watch marvelous winter landscapes. 7.Art ProjectArt Project is a collection of art installations and exhibits throughout the world covering modern art to street art. Notable collections include those encased within the White House to the opulent designs of the Palace of Versailles. Awesome experience for art lovers! 8.Government Buildings and ResidencesVirtually visit and explore the grandeur and history of legislative buildings and official residences from around the world. 9.University CampusesWant to know how the best universities of the world look like? Watch where students of different counties study. 10.TV Studios and SetsExplore famous television studios and sets from around the world on Street View.