Dive into virtual reality at the heart of World Heritage

Together with UNESCO, Iconem is launching “Monuments VR“, a web platform and a virtual reality experience which propels the user to the heart of some of the largest World Heritage sites around the world. From the temples of Angkor to the Armenian monasteries, the Roman city of Leptis Magna, the pyramids of Meroe, and the monuments of Palmyra and Mosul, the user can explore some thirty of the most emblematic sites of humanity’s heritage. This unique experience is part of the official selection of the “Pixii Festival”, organised from 22 to 25 June under the aegis of the Sunny Side of the Doc, one of the largest international festivals for broadcasters, content creators and producers. This year’s 31st edition will be held online due to the COVID-19 crisis, allowing festival-goers to discover a preview of latest innovations.

The user has a choice of several sites to choose from before beginning exploration of World Heritage sites © Iconem

“The COVID-19 crisis has brought into stark relief the necessity of culture for people and communities. At the intersection of culture and science, ‘Monuments VR’ is an excellent example of how digital technology can be harnessed to enable the continued access to culture in times of crises” said Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant-Director General for Culture at UNESCO.

“The sites presented on ‘Monuments VR’ are actually digital twins of real sites, produced during three-dimensional digitization campaigns of heritage sites ”, explained Yves Ubelmann, CEO and CO-Founder of Iconem. “In the course of our field missions, often carried out in partnership with UNESCO, we have been able to digitize more than 150 sites captured with an unprecedented degree of resolution” he continued.

The presentation of the 3D virtual reality scans was a technological challenge due to the colossal dimensions of the World Heritage sites and their digital versions. The latest innovations in WebVR and real-time 3D have therefore been mobilized to enable this web porting and the creation of a virtual reality experience, notably based on open source libraries such as Potree.

The user is thus equipped with a virtual reality headset and can freely explore sites, digitally browse – without leaving his or her home – vast archaeological regions, discover details in photorealistic environments, study and marvel at the richness of the world’s heritage.

For more information, join the Sunny Side of the Doc debate here.

To explore the sites without a virtual reality headset, click here.

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