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To shape the future we have to save the pastby@CUBEConnects
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To shape the future we have to save the past

by CUBE ConnectsJuly 18th, 2017
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On the surface, the fourth industrial revolution and cultural heritage don’t seem to be two fields with a natural overlap. However, on closer inspection, the two are beginning to create powerful bonds. The technologies which are shaping the global economy’s future, as well as our daily lives, are also going to have a huge impact on the ways we perceive, understand, and engage with culture across time.
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What do autonomous driving, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, or IoT have to do with ancient history?

On the surface, the fourth industrial revolution and cultural heritage don’t seem to be two fields with a natural overlap. However, on closer inspection, the two are beginning to create powerful bonds. The technologies which are shaping the global economy’s future, as well as our daily lives, are also going to have a huge impact on the ways we perceive, understand, and engage with culture across time.

Imagine going on a trip to a historical place; how would you usually immerse yourself in history and culture? You’d probably visit museums, exhibitions, monuments, urban architecture, and try local foods. Now imagine this place, whose culturally-relevant sites are encompassed within an IoT network. And imagine this IoT network has an AI guide who is ready with a plethora of experiences, and who can create a tour, and offer specific information, tailored to your interests. Or, with the help of VR and augmented reality, you are able to visit sites, and, utilizing your smartphone, explore how the place looked 20, 50 or 100 years ago, and discover which events of importance have occurred in the area.

In fact, there are already a huge number of technologies engaged within the cultural sector.

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Autonomous driving and 3D mapping for preservation

Autonomous vehicles require detailed 3D maps to operate, and this tech in now being used to digitize and map historical buildings. CyArk, for example, is aiming to digitally preserve heritage sites, and entire cities, across the world before they are lost to natural disasters, armed conflicts, and neglect, using autonomous driving and mapping technologies. Take a look at this 3D map of New Orleans quarter.

The company also mapped the Royal Tombs at Kasubi (Uganda) in 2009, a year before fire destroyed many of the site’s structures.

AI to make the invisible, visible

Computer scientist Brent Seales developed a machine learning algorithm that can read ancient, damaged scrolls, which were previously illegible. He also found that harnessing new medical technologies, such as tomographic tech, allowed for the digitalization of these ancient texts without damaging them.

Herculaneum was an ancient Roman town destroyed by volcanic pyroclastic flows in 79 AD, and its ruins are located in the commune of Ercolano, Campania, Italy. Here they discovered a papyri that features numerous Greek philosophical texts. Thanks to the eruption, bundles of scrolls were carbonized by the intense heat and turned into compact and highly fragile blocks. Opening this scroll using traditional methods will damage it beyond repair. But thanks to x-ray technology layered with an AI algorithm, the document could be read and preserved.

Augmented reality to showcase historic realities

Time Rift Tours are disrupting the tourism industry with the help of their immersive 360-degrees VR tech. Due to changes in urban landscape, and time more generally, it can be challenging to imagine how, for instance, the Berlin Wall and its surroundings looked in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Using VR technology, these tours help visitors to visualize the past by creating immersive virtual reality visualization of historical events.

Similarly, ZeitFenster is a ‘time-machine’, experience-oriented augmented reality startup, who is determined to educate people on places of historical significance in an interactive way. They also aim to raise community participation related to questions of urban development. Their app utilizes your smartphone’s camera and layers an image over the screen in order for you to compare historical moments related to specific sites.

Internet of Cultural Things

IoT is a hot topic right now, and is being used across a range of sectors from smart housing to agriculture and energy: Introducing the Internet of Cultural Things (IoCT), an IoT paradigm applied to cultural heritage by integrating objects, sensors, services, and apps within cultural places. Applications of IoCT will allow for not only visitor tracking, cultural site physical condition, but connecting objects with people and connecting people with each other to share knowledge — a truly great opportunity to raise public engagement and initiative.

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The potential applications of technology within the cultural field are huge, but we must remember that there are also numerous challenges related to the way we perceive culture and reality due to global citizenship, multiculturalism, as well as standardization of large cities. Globalization has forced nations to compete in the new global economy by exploiting their heritage and natural resources, and the new norm is the active consumption and monetization of tradition through mass tourism — think information booths, interactive signage, historical reenactments, reconstructed buildings, and VR guides.

There is often a failure to offer insights into a place’s moral or ethical issues, social justice, and sustainability. But tech, if used responsibly, could be a powerful tool to transform mass heritage consumption into sustainable tourism. Thanks to recent developments, tech is set to be a great help in assisting with communicating complex interpretations, shedding light on inaccessible facts, stories and memories, and ultimately creating a sustainable heritage process for all.

So what’s the key to success in the field? Establish technologies which have a powerful infrastructure that will support and recognize the complexity of human and cultural diversity.

Authored by: Evgeniya Panova, Global Development Manager, CG

We are is a global innovation ecosystem that acts as the strategic liaison between deep-tech startups and corporates who are determined to shape the future of industry 4.0.