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Applying Virtual and Augmented Reality to Improve Visitor Experience in Heritage Sites by Incorporating the Skyscape S&T16

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: S&T16

Heritage sites and centres provide visitors with the opportunity to experience ancient cultures by engaging with their inheritance. They focus on material and immaterial experiences enhanced through various external stimuli (such as sounds, music, and light) more often accompanied by Virtual or Augmented Reality devices for an immersive experience. The proposed studentship is motivated by existing studies which have emphasized that while the landscape had a vital role in defining past cultures, skyscape played a similar and complementary role in defining their beliefs and societal systems. Incorporating skyscape in the visitors’ experience allows them to experience and understand concepts of ritual and shamanistic participation in a living cosmos comprised of both sky and land as Malville suggests. What we know about the impact of skyscape in past cultures comes from archeoastronomy, “the study of the incorporation of celestial orientation, alignments or symbolism in human monuments and architecture” (Sophia Centre, Wales University Trinity Saint David). However, as Silva argues, despite extensive research on heritage sites which have been surveyed for celestial alignments only very rarely has it been successfully interpreted and integrated into the archaeological narrative. The trend seems to be changing, with recent examples including the Stonehenge Skyscape site which enables visitors to experience the sky in relation to the monument and explore their meaning for ancient societies.

Considering the above the proposed studentship focuses on enriching the visitor experience as well as the researcher’s understanding of heritage sites by including the skyscape factor. The successful candidate should have some experience in working with VR engines and mobile application programming. He/she will take an interdisciplinary approach by engaging research teams both at SST and ADBE. Research will include modelling and integrating ancient sky in VR and AR simulations based on state-of-the-art software tools that enable these immersive experiences on devices ranging from smartphones to sophisticated devices (headsets, costumes, and sensors). The resulted software should enable the integration of 3D models in complex scenery and full interaction with both landscape and skyscape elements. It should allow users to use it either from home or in situ, in which case it would enable them to experience through their smartphones or dedicated devices, AR scenery fully integrated with the actual skyscape elements such as real sunlight or moonlight, as well as the ability to go back in time to experience celestial events which were found to have been associated to the respective site.

School strategic research priority

The theme aligns with one of the research directions within CIRC, namely the Interactive Systems Research Group.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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