5G puts VR and robots into future museums
Image credit: Cover Images
An EU project is investigating novel ways of using 5G in museums.
Visitors to two of Turin’s most popular galleries have had the opportunity to experience how 5G communications technology could be used to bring smart robots and virtual reality into museums.
The demonstration, hosted by the Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (GAM) and City Museum of Ancient Art (Palazzo Madama) in the Italian city during May, was the result of collaboration between public and private organisations that have been working together for three years to demonstrate the potential of 5G communications technology as part of the EU-funded 5GTours project.
The networks set up at the two venues by TIM, using Ericsson technology, comply with the 3GPP standard and guarantee constant high-speed transmission and extremely low latency. In the case of Palazzo Madama, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site, tailor-made installations were designed using apparatus and solutions that integrate with the museum’s spaces. The GAM installation used the Radio Dot System, a new 5G solution from Ericsson that is small enough to be held in the palm of a hand but provides the level of coverage and performance required for busy indoor areas.
The public were able to meet and interact with R1, a humanoid robot created by the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genova and designed to operate in domestic and professional environments, whose autonomous and remote navigation system works well with the 5G bandwidth and latency.
Weighing 50kg and standing 1.25m tall, R1 is made from 50 per cent plastic and 50 per cent carbon fibre and metal. As well as describing exhibits it can answer questions regarding the artist or the period in history to which the work belongs.
5G connectivity is required to transmit the considerable quantity of data generated by the robot’s sensors and the algorithms that handle environmental perception, autonomous navigation and dialogue to external processing systems with rapid response times.
At Palazzo Madama, an R1 robot led a guided tour of the Ceramics Room, while at GAM it helped visitors to the museum’s 20th century collections explore a selection of works including Felice Casorati’s ‘Daphne a Pavarolo’, Osvaldo Lucini’s ‘Uccello 2’, Marc Chagall’s ‘Dans mon pays’, Alberto Burri’s ‘Sacco’, Andy Warhol’s ‘Orange car crash’ and Mario Merz’s ‘Che Fare?’.
Using Meta Quest virtual-reality visors that were also connected to the 5G network, visitors were able to tackle a puzzle that challenged them to put paintings in the Guards’ Room into the correct frames. With these devices, the works in the hall, which in reality cannot be touched, can be handled and moved virtually. They could also visit some of the building’s underground spaces via mini-robot Double 3, which uses the 5G network to move reactively and precisely within the narrow spaces.
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