This is the Middle Gate of Hwangnyongsa Temple, which was restored using the AR technology.
/Extracted from the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage
Do you know the animal “Haechi,” which is often seen at the entrance of the palace as an auspicious animal that prevents fires and disasters? With only one application on your mobile phone, you can make the Haechi your guide to help you view cultural assets. When visiting cultural assets such as palaces, temples and wooden pagodas, it was a familiar situation in which a person guides the viewers directly, or they visit without a guide. However, using the Augmented Reality (AR) technology, it is possible to meet your guide in your mobile phone through an application. You can hear not only detailed explanations about cultural properties, but also enjoy various contents with this AR application. In addition, the AR technology is now being used to restore the cultural assets that had been burned down to their actual sizes. The AR technology is opening a new way to experience and restore Korea’s cultural heritages.
What is the AR technology?
Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that overlaps virtual information with the real image or background by computer graphics and shows it as if it were real. Many people confuse the concepts of Virtual Reality (VR) with AR. However, VR, which uses virtual images that are not real backgrounds and environments, is a different concept from AR. The study of AR began with the development of “Head Mounted Display (HMD)” by Ivan Edward Sutherland, an American computer scientist in 1968. The term “Augmented Reality” was first used in 1990 by Tom Caudell, Boeing’s employee. He used this term to explain an airplane’s wire assembly by superimposing a virtual image on the real screen to make it easier to understand.
The AR technology is widely known to most people as the technology used in the game “Pokemon Go.” In the summer of 2016, Pokemon Go, a mobile game based on the AR technology, made the world go crazy. The AR technology, which was known as the technology used in games, is now making a great contribution to experiencing and viewing Korean cultural assets.
“Changdeok ARirang” application can be your personal guide
SK Telecom, with Royal Palaces and Tombs Center under the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA), introduced the “AR Deoksugung Palace” service that allows users to view Deoksugung Palace with a size of 61,205 square meters as an AR image on the “Jump AR” application in March. This service expresses Deoksugung Palace in three dimensions based on thousands of aerial photographs and the AR technology, so it allows people to view Deoksugung Palace with a smartphone at home. Following Deoksugung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace has also recently become available for AR viewing with more diverse contents.
On July 27th, “Changdeok ARirang” application, which is a 5G-based AR guide application set in Changdeokgung Palace, was unveiled. It was created by SK Telecom, Google Korea and the CHA, and now it is the world’s first world heritage experiencing AR application. If visitors turn on this application and point Geumcheongyo Bridge, then Haechi, the guardian of Changdeokgung Palace, will appear and guide them through 12 areas in Changdeokgung Palace. Through the Changdeok ARirang application, visitors can meet various figures such as kings and servants of the Joseon Dynasty and experience court dances and traditional games through the AR technology. Furthermore, they can watch restricted areas such as Huijeongdang and Juhamnu with high-definition 360-degree screens. For visitors who do not have 5G smartphones, the Changdeokgung Palace Office operates a free smart phone rental service. This application can be an opportunity for people, who have physical limitations in viewing cultural assets, to enjoy watching them freely.
Hwangnyongsa Temple was restored using the AR technology
Hwangnyongsa Temple, first founded in 553, is thought to be the largest temple in Silla, but now only the foundation stones remain because of the invasion by Mongolia in 1238. However, on July 22nd, the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage (NRICH) of the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) revealed that the Middle Gate and the Southern Roofed Corridor of Hwangnyongsa Temple were restored using the AR technology. The NRICH explained that there was a case of digitally realizing cultural properties that do not exist in real life, but Hwangnyongsa Temple is the first case to be restored with the AR technology so that it can be experienced in an accurate location with the actual size. In addition, they explained that the viewers could feel as if they were walking through Hwangnyongsa Temple since this project maximized perspective by calculating the distance between the viewer and the object. It considers the difference in the lengths of shadows over time. They are planning to continue digital restoration of the main hall by 2024, and the lecture hall and nine-story wooden pagoda later.
Also, in the cooperation of the City of Gyeongju, Hwangnyongsa Temple is going to offer visitors the experience of the AR program by using a tablet PC provided on site. If visitors use the AR program, they will be able to enjoy various contents such as seeing historical relics, taking pictures with the temple and animation of the construction process of the temple. Park Ye-jin, a sophomore of Department of History of Dankook University, said, “I think that if the ‘image quality,’ which is considered the limit of the current 3D industry, is improved by the development of the AR technology, a cultural tour of higher quality will be possible than now. In addition, I expect that the cultural heritage sites restored using the AR technology overcoming the limitations of the 3D technology will play a positive role in future exhibition and viewing.”
The NRICH remarked that the digital restoration of cultural assets would contribute to recovering the value of cultural heritage sites and expanding the opportunities for people to enjoy a hands-on experience in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. As such, the new technology called AR made it easier not only to appreciate cultural properties, but also to find a new way of restoring cultural assets to their actual sizes.
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