Taran3D Ltd create immersive museum experience

Thank you to Taran3D Ltd for sending us this fantastic innovative case study. Read on to find out how they have used augmented and virtual reality to create an immersive museum experience with the Anglo Sikh Virtual Museum Project.

Company name: Taran3D Ltd

Location: Birmingham UK

Approx Annual Turnover: £28,000

FTEs: 1.5

Supported by: STEAMhouse

OUR BUSINESS

We are an innovative 3D design studio that visualises client products and environments using the latest immersive technologies for VR headsets, touch screens, smart devices and the web. We have expertise in 3D modelling and sculpting, realtime interactive applications supported by an in-depth proficiency in 3D printing and prototyping. We possess the technical expertise and the drive to ensure that projects are taken from conceptualisation phase through to final delivery of professional grade media products.

We primarily service the Engineering industry but have recently entered the Museums & Heritage sector of the market.  A majority of our customers are based in the UK.  However, recently we were commissioned to complete a project in Canada.

In the case of the Anglo Sikh Virtual Museum Project, the client wanted historic artefacts to be digitised and recreated as 3D models could be accessible via the internet. In addition to this they also wanted to explore the use of virtual reality headsets and augmented reality to enable a more immersive experience.

The clients ambition was two fold, first the exposure of rare artefacts and secondly to engage new audiences who are more accustomed to the latest technology and expect a more interactive experience compared to what is currently being offered by traditional museums.

What did we do?

The Anglo Sikh Virtual Museum project required us to create accurate representative 3D models of museum artefacts that could be easily experienced within a VR headset or via a mobile phone using augmented reality.

Traditional methods of creating 3D models require the object to either be modelled by hand using CAD software or they can be 3D scanned. The first method takes a lot of effort and time to ensure that the object is accurate, the second method of using a 3d Scanner creates extremely complex 3d models which can not be used within a real time experience. In addition metallic artefacts can not be scanned easily because of their reflective nature which interferes with the scanning process.

We requested test artefacts so that we could experiment and try various methods of digitising, converting and testing the results within VR environments and on mobile devices.

Our process firstly involved understanding the most efficient ways of recording the object. We decided on a technique known as photogrammetry. This process allows you to take multiple photos of an object and use them to generate a 3D model.

Handling a 19th Century instrument (Sarinda, Hoshiarpur, Punjab, 1800 – 1900 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

We had limited time with the artefacts at the museums hence time management and planning was crucial. We had to ensure that we researched the objects thoroughly and identify any potential problems areas on the objects that we might face. We ensured all equipment was tested and that the museum understood the process so that they could provide adequate space for the procedure.

Photogrammetry allowed us to accurately record the surface texture and shape of the object. However this technique creates a complex geometry not suitable for a real time experience in VR or AR.

The resulting complex mesh generated from the photography session

We explored various methods of using the complex data and  worked out a way  of transferring the detail from a complex geometric model to a simple one by projecting the surface detail and texture into images. These images could then be used on a simpler model to generate accurate properties of a physical material such as reflectiveness and color. This method gave us the ability to recreate the artefacts with very high detail even capturing scratches and erosion.

A VR ready model of an 18th century shield with inlaid gold pattern work (1701 – 1730 Lahore, Royal Armouries Museum)

We managed to successfully record, replicate and publish digital artefacts to a VR headset and to an online platform which meant that anyone interested in the artefacts could not only view them in great detail, but they could also hold and manipulate the objects while wearing a vr Headset and controllers.

A digital user viewing jewellery artefacts through augmented reality on a mobile

Our new product

We are in the process of developing a marketing campaign aimed at providing museums with a full artefact digitisation service.   This would enable museums to have any number of artefacts digitally created and prepared to share on any immersive platform.

A child viewing artefacts in a VR headset (New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester. Feb 2020)

The project has been critically acclaimed and featured on local and international  newspapers and online publications. This includes the Leicester Mercury, Tribune India and the Times of India. We have also been interviewed as part of the BBC World Service Heart and Soul programme talking about how people can engage with their cultural heritage through new technologies like Virtual Reality.

We have also been facilitating digital showcases for over 40 events across the UK engaging with different audiences including showcases at Museums, Leicester Museums, Ancient Houses Museum in Thetford, Royal Armouries in Leeds and various religious and cultural festivals alongside showcasing the project to school children at schools and camps. We have also engaged with universities including showcasing our work at the University of Wolverhampton, University of Leicester and University of Exeter. In addition to this we have been holding a series of online lectures talking about the use of immersive technologies within the heritage sector giving a basic understanding of the technologies underpinning the project.

Father and child enjoying a VR experience (Willenhall Interfaith day, Nov 2019)

Additional resources

Project website

Our website: