Augmentarium

In the summer of 2011 a friend and I we founded Augmentarium, a venture that was built around the homonym software. Augmentarium aimed to become the Photoshop of Augmented Reality (AR); easy and inexpensive design and implementation of AR applications. My friend undertook the development of the software, whilst myself taking advantage of the fact I was in London I gathered plenty of feedback from my network in the AR industry and I conducted the business plan. Augmentarium not only was accepted to be incubated by the UCL Advances but also won a mentorship through the Business Bootcamp from Rapid Innovation Group.

The business idea behind it, was to take advantage of (1) the fact augmented reality and in particular mobile augmented reality is a booming industry and (2) the options for the design and development of AR where inefficient at the time; very expensive solutions for what they had to offer. The thinking was that sooner or later the AR industry would follow the way of other similar niche markets, such as photo manipulation, 3D modelling and more, where the software solutions do not exceed a couple of thousand pounds. The feedback and traction we gathered was very encouraging, however communication issues within the team where enough to give an end to this venture. Looking back I can only repeat the words of my business tutor in my masters: “It’s a learning process”. Indeed Augmentarium was the first real motive that pushed me in the deep waters of entrepreneurship or whatever running-a-rather-unsuccessful-company-and-never-giving-up is called.

Shakespeare’s Hunt (Video)

Shakespeare’s Hunt is a pilot of an alternate reality (also known as treasure hunt) iPad game for the exhibition of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I worked on the project as a partner of Metavore London, developing the software, designing the interface and contributing to its game design aspect. My contribution to this project is also my thesis for the second year of my MFA studies.

In the beginning of the last academic year I had as a personal goal, for my final project to work closely with a cultural institution and develop a piece of work that would serve a purpose set by the professionals who work there. Given that last year my prototype applications were designed to fulfil needs that I had only come across through my research, I got the feedback that some assumptions of mine don’t stand for the majority of the cultural heritage institutions. In particular, during a conference earlier in the year I had the chance to discuss with Nancy Proctor, head of mobile strategy for the Smithsonian Institution,  and commenting on my work, she made the point that some of the material ARS:CI is aiming to take advantage of, can be provided only by a small minority of museums that can afford it e.g. under-drawings of paintings, or 3D reconstructions of damaged sculptures.

For Shakespeare’s Hunt we had the chance to work closely with people from Shakespeare’s Globe, hence it was a great pleasure for me to have their insight and be influenced during the design phase of the project by the objectives that the Globe itself follows when it comes to matters such as the use of new technologies in exhibition spaces and education.

For my studies I have been writing a document about this project, which I am planning to circulate to a few conferences on the topic and hopefully get it published. I am still working on it, however the synopsis as of today is the following:

Museums’ missions are stated as providing education through the exhibition and interpretation of their collections [1] and for the vast majority of cultural heritage institutions the interpretative material is static, constituted by long pieces of textual or audio information. According to Georgina Goodlander, Interpretive Programs Manager for the Smithsonian Art Museum “The twenty-first-century audience has an increasingly short attention span, extremely high expectations when it comes to finding and engaging with information, the ability to communicate with friends and strangers quickly and on multiple platforms, and a very open approach to learning”. [2] This paper argues that as audiences evolve, so should exhibition spaces and Shakespeare’s Hunt is an attempt to exploit the benefits emerging technologies have to offer and provide an experience designed according to the audience of our era as described by Goodlander above.

MA Thesis (Video)

During the last academic year in the course MA Interactive Digital Media of Ravensbourne College I discovered my interest in innovative applications for museums, while at the same time I had the chance to explore a plethora of  new technologies. After long hours of research and practise  as well (i.e. programming, design and user testing) I found my exact subject of interest, which is Augmented Reality iPhone applications for museums and dedicated myself to it ever since. The video below is a demonstration of the largest part of my work.

For the installation of my project at the MA Major Project Exhibition which took place on the 12-16th of July at Ravensbourne College, I designed the following poster which summarises the concept and the functionality behind the prototype applications of the Augmented Reality Suite.

Now I am working on my dissertation which is a documentation of my major project and of the research that supported its concept and implementation. The approximately 10,000 words long essay will be uploaded here by September.

BSc Thesis (Video)

My dissertation for the BSc(Hons) in Computer Science from the Informatics dept. of University of Piraeus is a Silverlight application uploaded in Vimeo for the artistic archive of the National Theatre of Northern Greece. Microsoft Silverlight is one of my favourite technologies since it combines this designer/developer combination which clearly defines me.

The application is used as an interface for the theatre’s 13Gb database. All the controls included in the application (accordion timeline, sequential fade-in/out menus, thumbnails view etc.) were all written from scratch. I learnt much things during this project and it definitely made me a better developer. I would attach my documentation if it wasn’t in Greek, but in case you do speak Greek please contact me.