Date of release: Monday, September 8, 2014

Dr Ralph BarthelVisitors to famous and historic places will be able to truly ‘interact’ with their surroundings and record their own experiences for posterity thanks to a new research project at the University of Greenwich.

‘Sound and Vision Scapes’, launched at the start of September, will see more than one hundred places and objects of historic importance throughout the UK being equipped with smart location technologies, such as ‘bluetooth beacons’. These will allow visitors not only to access audio and video clips, via phone apps, at particular points during a visit, but to add their own writings, memories and photos, explaining what the historic sites mean to them personally and leaving a permanent record for future generations.

Locations to be included in the first phase of the project include various buildings at the university’s Greenwich Campus.

Partners in the project include the BBC and The Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London. It is being led by Dr Ralph Barthel, Senior Lecturer in Educational Development and Learning Technology at Greenwich.

Dr Barthel says: “Our research identified an important gap in visitor experiences of important cultural heritage attractions. We thought there was a need to widen participation, so people from across the world can not only learn more about these sites, but add their views and form some sort of huge ‘collective memory’ of these places, in a way that has never been done before.

“We’re providing a novel opportunity for true engagement with cultural heritage, for all ages and for people from all walks of life.”

Dr Barthel also leads the Greenwich Connect project, the name given to the university’s vision for bringing innovation to its teaching and learning.

His recent research on technologies, known as the ‘Internet of Things’, has focused on human-computer interactions in areas including digital empathy, informal learning and second-hand retail.

Sound and Vision Scapes is one of just ten research projects across the UK to be chosen for a prestigious Digital Transformations Amplification Award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

This funding is for cutting-edge projects that focus on issues such as cultural memory, identity, communication and creativity in the digital age.

Professor Andrew Prescott, the AHRC Theme Leader Fellow for Digital Transformations, says: “These awards are very exciting. The range of work will help pioneer new forms of cultural practice and assist in the development of the UK’s creative economy.”

Story by Public Relations

Picture: Dr Ralph Barthel, University of Greenwich.