The VRSciT project (2020-1-PT01-KA204-078597) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Virtual humans in cultural heritage ICT applications: A review

Study Field
STEAM, Culture and tourism, Cultural Heritage Preservation
Summary
This study presents a state-of-the-art of the use of ‘Virtual Humans’ (VHs) in cultural heritage VR applications. It analyzes the effect of their interaction on user engagement, sense of immersion and learning effectiveness and it highlights the technical efforts behind the generation, integration and simulation in 3D environments while also presenting the application range. The study identifies two main purposes of VHs – as conversational agents acting as tour guides or as population in reconstructed 3D spaces to breathe life and give better context and realism. It also underlines some of the main challenges, scalable technologies for fast 3D modelling, crowd simulation challenges and verbal communication capabilities of VHs.
Innovative VR tools and techniques
- Applications of Virtual Humans as tour guides of virtual environments, acting both as a navigation aid (helping visitors find places of interest) and as an information provider.
- Use of a virtual cultural heritage environment populated with VHs to provide to the users a more engaging and realistic experience.
VR in education
- Virtual worlds without virtual human agents and social interaction tend to be perceived by the users as boring and empty environments.
- The sense of social presence supports the acquisition of knowledge.
- The sense of engagement perceived by the user in virtual environments has an impact on learning, especially when mediated with motivation.
- In the field of “edutainment” (which expresses a synergy between education, training and entertainment), VHs are often used as virtual teachers in order to create more user-friendly applications and to attract players’ attention.
- VHs as intelligent agents have the potential to entertain and engage visitors and to contribute to the learning process by offering personalized feedback, by answering questions and using storytelling elements.
- Empathy with a game character is helpful in better understanding of cultural issues, certain historical events, and specific behaviors.
Reference
O. M. Machidon, M. Duguleana, M. Carrozzino (2018) Virtual humans in cultural heritage ICT applications: A review, Journal of Cultural Heritage, Vol. 33, pp 249-260.

The VRSciT Project

The VRSciT project (2020-1-PT01-KA204-078597) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.