Explore our work in digital heritage
One of our areas of expertise in Digital and Creative Technologies
Cultural and heritage locations like theatres, museums, castles and stately homes increasingly use digital technology in the development, preservation and delivery of visitor experiences.
For example, visitors to the Science Museum in London can immerse themselves in a virtual reality experience by returning to Earth from space in the pilot's seat of a Soyuz Capsule; visitors to buildings managed by Historic England can view 3D reconstructions of old buildings to see what they might have looked like throughout history.
The use of digital technology is inescapable, and new audiences have grown up with digital experiences, so expect digital enhancement during their visits. Organisations in the cultural and heritage sectors need to consider how they can implement digital technology and the benefits of implementation.
Our research covers the following topics:
- Digital heritage
- Digital humanities
- Digital museums
- Museum technology
- Digital culture
- Digital cultural heritage
Our research is helping cultural heritage organisations plan for the future, such as by examining whether the cost of implementing new technology and hiring the staff to use it is justified by its impact on visitor experience. We provide resources, data and research for organisations to explore new digital opportunities and understand how to implement ideas effectively.
The work we do is also a source of knowledge and educational materials for schools, colleges and specific disciplines in universities – and helps enhance current teaching methods by re-framing the material in a way that's more interactive and engaging for a younger generation.
We also explore the relationship between technology and cultural heritage from a visitor's perspective. We seek to understand visitors' motivations to use the technology, their expectations and perspective on what it does, and whether it provides the best experience.
Methods and facilities
We explore visitor engagement and participation using ethnography, observations, content analysis, conversation analysis and grounded theory. We also use quantitative research methods including experiments, prototyping, 3D modelling, network analysis and digitisation.
We use immersive environments, virtual reality labs and our motion capture suite to place users in a digitally created environment as though it were real. Through this illusionary experience, users can interact and feel part of the environment – even though it's a construct – providing genuine research data.
Partnerships and funders
Our research is used by cultural organisations to engage with current and potential visitors through digital innovation. Our partners include the Royal Shakespeare Company, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Mary Rose Museum, Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, and the New Theatre Royal.
Our research has been funded by Innovate UK, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy.
We're working on a large discovery project as part of AHRC's Towards a National Collection funded-project, led by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England.
Unpath'd aims to reshape the future of UK marine heritage by devising novel ways of searching across collections, visualising underwater landscapes, and identifying wrecks and artefacts from them. The project will also deliver digital tools to protect our most significant heritage while inviting the public to co-design ways of exploring the archives in order to uncover previously untold stories and new questions to guide future research.
We worked with a range of regional cultural heritage partners to develop immersive XR prototypes as part of Enabling XR Enterprise (eXRe) to use eXtended Reality technology to help boost the city’s visitor and cultural economy.
Working with Portsmouth City Council, and led by the University’s Centre for Creative and Immersive eXtended Reality (CCIXR) in partnership with The Mary Rose Trust, Spinnaker Tower, Victorious Festival, Gosport Borough Council, Aspex Visual Arts Trust and The D-Day Story.
We investigated existing user research relating to the UK’s Gallery, Library, Archive and Museum (GLAM) digital collections.
Exploring relevant literature in order to identify the ways in which users of cultural heritage digital collections have been categorised.
Magic Leap programme
We worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company on the Magic Leap programme, exploring how performance is brought to life using spatial computing that detects and responds to the environment, blending the real-world with the digital.
We worked with the Mary Rose Museum to create a 3D visualisation of the ship's figurehead by piecing together shadow photographs and coordinate data.
The 3D image of the figurehead can now be seen by visitors to the museum in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard.
Our virtual reality research contributed to a BAFTA White Paper titled Virtual Reality In Entertainment – The State Of The Industry.
This research explored the features, benefits, and limitations of different forms of virtual and augmented reality. We looked at current psychological and physical risks, the significance of its value, and best-practice for entertainment and the mission of BAFTA.
This research was used to inform the new BAFTA VR committee on whether they should create a new awards programme for VR. They decided to integrate VR into existing awards programmes.
The new London Symphony Orchestra visual identity.
Remodelling the Temple of Baal.
Interested in a PhD in Digital and Creative Technologies?
Browse our postgraduate research degrees—including PhDs and MPhils—at our Digital &and Creative Technologies postgraduate research degrees page.
Listen to Virtual Reality Relics: A Life Solved podcast
In our 85th Life Solved podcast episode, Dr Claire Bailey-Ross explains how virtual, augmented, and extended reality techniques are enhancing our learning experiences in museums, galleries, and online.
Computer Games Design And Technology
We're examining the theory, psychology and development of video games and contributing to the design, development and release of games.
Cross Reality Applications
We're exploring how virtual reality (VR) can improve patient's physical and psychological rehabilitation, and developing VR simulations for a range healthcare applications.
Animation and CGI
We're creating ground-breaking, award-winning CGI films, and investigating how film production can be used in education.
Music: Composition, Practices and Technology
We're investigating music and sound and creating new tools to enhance performance and creativity.
Digital User Experience
We're exploring the changing relationship between users and technology to develop new and better experiences for users.
We're analysing body and facial motion and cognitive signals to develop machine understanding of visual environments, through 3D reconstruction and modelling.