Digital Technologies to enhance culture: the Ducale App

The dissemination of digital technologies has revolutionised the approach to studying works of art. They have the potential to make cultural heritage accessible: this is one of the challenges of reflective societies set by the European Commission. Digitalisation of cultural heritage is a multidimensional process, which undoubtedly has an impact on the recognition of the values of European identity ??by increasing their cultural awareness. From the perspective of interdisciplinary research projects, the challenges can be tackled through the use of innovative technologies, sustainable and expeditious digitisation processes and, above all, by using digital data and tools for reading and understanding artefacts and works of art. Augmented reality can be used on a painting to discover hidden details, learn about the characters and study the restoration processes that have taken place over time. Facts and images in high-definition regarding works allow users to observe the painting with an extraordinary level of detail and to capture details that would not be possible with the naked eye. The “Ducale” app is based on these assumptions and is a 360&deg virtual tour that allows you to walk through the rooms of the Palazzo Ducale of Urbino and of the Galleria Nazione of the Marche. The contents of the application, released by the Università Politecnica of the Marche, for the Galleria Nazionale of the Marche, come from the acquisition of paintings in very high definition, in addition to providing information scientifically validated by art historians and experts of the Gallery. It is available in the Apple and Google stores and allows you to surf culture with insights into the three masterpieces preserved at the Palazzo Ducale: Raffaello’s Portrait of a Woman (La Muta), The Ideal City and The Double Portrait by Federico and Guidobaldo. The aim of the application is to provide more interesting content for various types of visitors: the development was in fact conducted through focus groups and analyses on the observation of the three paintings based on eye-tracking technology. One of the peculiarities of the app is the augmented reality section, analysed according to different paradigms of interaction aimed at learning, on the one hand, and the ability to bring the visitor closer to the work, albeit in a virtual manner, on the other. Vision-based augmented reality lets you overlay digital content on your device’s display without modifying the object in the frame. Using this principle, the user can get closer to the work and can interact with it by framing it. Development was calibrated on the three paintings according to different principles of interaction. The app’s home page is divided into three main macro sections: “il Palazzo Ducale”, from which you can access the virtual tour, “I Capolavori”, which is the heart of the project and features a function bar and, lastly, a link to the website of the Galleria Nazionale of the Marche. The HD section has been organised so that it is possible to zoom in on certain details, reaching a level of detail that shows the individual brush strokes and other peculiarities that would otherwise not be visible to the naked eye. Thanks to an overall configuration that underlies the app sub-sections, a single browsing menu has been optimised and uniformed for very different paintings according to bibliography and according to intrinsic nature. Indeed, in two cases the depictions are of persons, one of which is of uncertain origin, while the other is undoubtedly by the most important and well-known painter in the Galleria, Raffaello. In the third case, the depiction of an inanimate urban landscape. The sections related to content, entitled “Il Quadro”, “L’Autore” and “Approfondimenti” respectively, have lots of news and curiosities on the works, while providing users with various hierarchical levels (from general to detail) of reading.

written by: Emanuele Frontoni e Roberto Pierdicca , 30 May 2017

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