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ASI taps IIT Jodhpur to build digital museum using AR, VR


NEW DELHI : The technology innovation hub of the Indian Institute of Technology, Jodhpur, iHub Drishti, is developing two augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) platforms for the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

“ASI wants us to build a digital museum using AR and VR. The services will have a game-based platform to attract the younger generation’s interest in archaeology,” Amit Bhardwaj, an assistant professor with IIT-Jodhpur’s department of electrical engineering, said In an interview.

ASI, a government agency under the ministry of culture, is involved in archaeological research and expeditions, and is responsible for preserving monuments and maintaining museums. While its core function is to protect historic sites, it has dabbled in VR technologies as well.

In April 2020, ASI entered a partnership with Google’s arts and culture division to offer an immersive VR experience at five historical sites, including Taj Mahal in Agra, Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, Maharashtra’s Ajanta and Ellora caves, and Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh. It is available on the Google Arts and Culture app and can be watched on a smartphone by using a Google Cardboard VR headset.

According to Bhardwaj, the AR and VR experiences being developed by IIT Jodhpur will be more advanced. The game-based platform will help users learn about historical excavation sites and monuments. He, however, did not share names of the monuments that will be included.

Kurush Dalal, former professor of archaeology, University of Mumbai, and director, school of archaeology, India Student Centre Trust, said the platforms could significantly boost interest in lesser-known historical and archaeological artefacts in India. “The ASI has conducted some of the greatest excavations in history, but findings of some of these projects could never be displayed in a museum due to space constraints. Having a VR museum built specifically to showcase the ASI’s achievements could bring out historical items that have never been seen before.”

According to Manas Bairagi, chief executiveiHub Drishti, the government has initiated many projects to promote animation, visual effects, gaming and comics, to help AR-VR developers find jobs.

“The global market for AR, VR and MR products presently stands at around $30 billion, and by 2024, is set to grow 10x. India’s AR/VR market presently is worth around $1.8 billion, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40% – boosted by the idea of the metaverse,” Bairagi added. 

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