Through the Loupe : Visitor engagement with a primarily text-based handheld AR application

Van Der Vaart, Merel and Damala, Areti; (2016) Through the Loupe : Visitor engagement with a primarily text-based handheld AR application. In: 2015 Digital Heritage International Congress, Digital Heritage 2015. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc., ESP, pp. 565-572. ISBN 9781509000487 (

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The use of Augmented Reality (AR) in a museum or heritage setting holds great potential. However, until now, introducing AR into their buildings has been prohibitively expensive for most museums. On the one hand, programming the AR application could not be done in-house and would be rather costly. Secondly, the time-consuming production of high-quality digital visuals, often used in AR installations, needed to be outsourced. With the arrival of several AR engines, creating the actual experience has become easy, relatively fast and cheap, meaning the costs and skills associated with content creation might be the prime reason for particularly small and medium sized museums to not engage with the use of AR. This begs the question: Can other, simpler, types of content, such as texts, also be used to create a valued AR interpretation tool? This paper will discuss a study that has made a first attempt to answering this question. In addition, it explored the role AR can play in improving engagement between visitor, the object and its related information. The Loupe is a handheld AR application that was designed and tested as part of the meSch project. For this study, content, mainly consisting of text, was created for the Loupe at the Allard Pierson Museum. The tool was then tested with 22 participants who were asked to use the Loupe, either alone or together. Through questionnaires, observations and interviews, participants' engagement with and response to the Loupe were analyzed. This paper will discuss the findings of that study, focusing on the way the Loupe influenced the relationship between visitor and object, as well as the value of textual content as part of such an AR tool.