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Tutankhamun to guide visitors around Cairo’s Egyptian Museum via AR headset

Image credit: University of Huddersfield

Visitors will be led around Cairo’s Egyptian Museum by a virtual Tutankhamun, thanks to a new augmented reality (AR) project spearheaded by University of Huddersfield researchers.

The system, dubbed MuseumEye, uses Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset to enrich the museum experience.

The headset combines the physical environment - such as a museum room and its exhibits - with a 3D virtual space.

“Imagine you are a visitor to the Egyptian Museum, arriving at the central exhibit – Tutankhamun,” said Egyptian-born Ramy Hammady who developed the system. 

“Wearing the headset transforms the room into the Pharaoh’s temple, where he introduces himself and demonstrates his power and riches. The headset has a futuristic floating user interface with options of what to look at as the Pharaoh guides you around his palace.”

In order to create his 3D virtual space and its antiquities, Ramy was able make scans of replicas - produced for the Egyptian government - of some of the treasures of Tutankhamun, including his throne.

This means that visitors using MuseumEye can inspect the artefacts from all angles via the headset.

Ramy himself created the animated figure of Tutankhamun that appears in MuseumEye. The Pharaoh’s voice (initially speaking in English, with languages including Arabic set to follow) was synthesised in the University of Huddersfield’s studios by doctoral researcher Sebastien Lavoie.

When MuseumEye was tested in the Egyptian Museum, it was found that visitors who used the headset spent between five to seven minutes in front of exhibits, instead of the five to 15 seconds that is typical without AR interaction.

Tutankhamun was the pharaoh of Egypt who died around 1323 BC when he was still in his late teens.

The 1922 discovery of his nearly intact tomb by British archaeologist Howard Carter received worldwide press coverage, ultimately making the young pharaoh one of the most well-known former rulers of Egypt.

Tutankhamun’s mask, now in the Egyptian Museum, remains one of the most recognisable artefacts from ancient Eqyptian society.

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