Nexus Studios joined with  SK Telecom, Google and the Cultural Heritage Administration to transform Changdeok Palace in Seoul, a UNESCO world-heritage site, into the world’s first digitally mapped AR experience.

The AR enhanced tour allows visitors to learn about and take part in customs and traditions of the 17th and 18th Century Joseon dynasty, make friends with a mythical wayfinding character, practice archery with Prince Yi San, take a selfie with King Yeongjo and Queen Jeongseong, learn an ancient dynastic dance and tour the Secret Garden in Buyoungji.

Visitors are guided around the palace grounds by a mythical creature – Haechi, who tells the stories of the Joseon dynasty. Walking between a variety of locations, sited on a digitalised ancient map, visitors can interact with members of the Joseon court and discover ancient artefacts as if they were still there, all  reimagined in AR and activated by 5G powered Android devices.

Through the use of AR, volumetric capture, cloud anchors (a visual positioning system for AR) and other technologies , the entire cultural site has been mapped out digitally and transformed into a virtual canvas upon which the 12, unique interactions take place. Visitors can access rich media content instantly and see 4k volumetric captured performances, made possible through SKT 5G Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), Google ARCore and Google Cloud technologies.

Luke Ritchie, Head of Interactive Arts at Nexus Studios, explains, ‘We’re incredibly excited to launch this experience alongside Google and SK Telecom. It marks an important moment in the evolution of ‘Enhanced Location’ based experiences that demonstrate the mind blowing possibilities of placing AR content over the real world. As leaders in the Augmented Reality industry this was an exceptionally challenging and compelling project on many fronts. Thanks to Google’s ARCore technology we were able to expand upon our previous work in enhancing locations with an intelligent guide that knows its position to within centimeter accuracy, as well as design experiences to the architecture of the palace. And with SK Telecom’s 5G network we were able to push the boundaries of photo-real 4k volumetric rendering by bringing to life Kings, Queens, Princes and more, on a mobile phone. We’re hoping this project sets the benchmark for the potential of AR in future arts and culture experiences, particularly in the face of Covid-19 and its impact on museum and gallery access. We’re proud of this example of authentically preserving and enhancing culture, making it accessible to all. Keep your eyes peeled for the at home version!”

Jon Creamer