View of San Giminiano (photo: Alinari)
The Purpose of the project “VISITO Tuscany” is to investigate and realize technologies able to offer an interactive and customized advanced tour guide service to visit the cities of art in Tuscany. Specifically, the project focuses on offering some services to be used:
- During the tour, through the use of mobile devices of new generation, in order to improve the quality of the experience.
- Before the tour, to plan the visit in a better way.
- After the tour, to keep the memory alive and share it with other people.
- During the city tour, the mobile device is used by the user to get detailed information about what he’s watching, or about the context he’s placed in. While taking pictures of monuments, places and other close-up objects, the user points out what, according to him, seems to be more interesting. When pictures are taken with geolocalized information, if available, and with information on the profile automatically acquired or proposed by the user, they’ll be processed by the system to infer which are the user’s interests and to provide him relevant and customized information. For example, if a user keen on architecture, takes a picture of the bell tower of Giotto, he can get detailed information describing the bell tower, its structural techniques, similar monuments, etc.
- Before the tour, both the information sent by other users and their experiences, can be employed by the user to better plan his own visit, together with the information already included in the database system and, more generally, on the web. The interaction will take place through advanced methods based on 3D display.
- After the tour, the user can access the pictures and the itinerary he followed through advanced mode of interaction based on 3D display. Moreover, he might share his information and experiences with other users by creating social networks.
The three main aspects of the project are summarized in the following picture and described afterwards:
SERVICES PROVIDED DURING THE TOUR
The technologies that we are going to develop will enable the user to access mobile devices of new generation, such as smart phones and PDAs, equipped with camera, memory capacity and processors, and GPS in order to get information that effectively guide him through the tour in a city of art in Tuscany. The user will obtain information about a monument, its details or location, simply taking a picture through his mobile device. The system will recognize the caught object, supported by the information on the position of the person if available, and will retrieve the information to be turned back to the user according with his preferences, or inferred from previous use of the device by the user or by other users.
The information will be provided to the user in various ways: according to the user’s profile, according to the type of service provided to the user, and according to the type of information itself.
For example, these information can be accessed through:
- web pages available to be viewed on mobile device
- 3D animation
- sound descriptions which can be listened through the mobile device.
Information will be of different kinds, depending on the photographic subject and on the user’s profile. For example, the user might obtain:
- the description of the monument or the description of the caught detail.
- a review of the nearest restaurants and their classification
- suggestions on other places of interest close to the place where the user is.
The activity of the user during his tour may be stored, with discretion and with the necessary privacy and security controls, in order to be subsequently accessed. For example the system will keep a track of the pictures taken, followed itineraries, visited places, aspects and objects that catch more attention, etc... This information will be an integral part of the services that will be supplied before the tour and after the tour, as described below.
SERVICES PROVIDED BEFORE THE TOUR
The information that users made available, concerning their tour, will be analyzed and organized afterwards to make it available for other people prior to their tours. Users can use this information to plan in a better way their itineraries by taking advantage of other users experiences. Advanced display modes that allow both access to information on the map (Google-Earth), and the 3D visualization of monuments and places of general interest will be used.
In particular, the 3D visualizations will be enriched by some contents created by users themselves. For example, by observing the 3D reproductions of the cathedral of Florence, the user will be able to have displayed a fully integrated range of single best pictures taken by users themselves or recovered from popular photo sharing websites such as Flickr or Picasa.
SERVICES PROVIDED AFTER THE TOUR
Users will be able to live again the tour experience by looking up at the places visited and related to the personal pictures taken. Users will be able to create customized albums of photographs, by using the material created and by integrating the contents of quality made available by professionals or other users. In this case, the user will access his photographs in a virtual 3D environment, where the photographs are correctly placed on top of 3D models of the photographed scenes.
Virtual communities could be created according to the scheme of social networking, which brings together people who have lived the same experiences, who have the same interests, and who can maintain the social network itself. These services can be widely used, for example.