Through this one-of-a-kind mixed reality experience, visitors will be able to go on a compelling journey where they witness the rich history behind the model, explore specific points of interest, and are transported to the awe-inspiring Mont-Saint-Michel site as it stands today in Normandy. They’re able to see the origins and evolution of the site in a way that wasn’t possible before, as well as try out the new HoloLens 2.
Nov. 21, 2019
In November, visitors to Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry will have the opportunity to travel in time and space, back to a fortified monastery in 1691 France.
Artificial intelligence and mixed reality let visitors travel in time and space to view historic Mont-Saint-Michel relief map.
High-tech history: 17th-century map gets a 21st-century look
“This exhibition is an important step in providing access to a new generation of people, while promoting a greater understanding of French history and culture around the world.”
For centuries, technology has been influencing the way people engage with the world and shape the course of history. In 17th- and 18th-century France, large-scale 3D maps — painstakingly built by hand down to the most intricate details — were the most advanced mapping technology of their time. They were such valuable strategic tools that leaders like Napoleon and King Louis XIV considered them military secrets and hid them from public view.
–Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
By donning a HoloLens 2, guests are taken on a 15- to 20-minute experience where the Mont-Saint-Michel model comes to life.
–Antoine Bezborodko, Executive Producer, HoloForge
“The main challenge in this project was to define the guidelines of a mixed reality tour guide. This is the beginning of a new era for cultural mediation, and we need to make it accessible to everyone: museums, mediators and visitors.”
Iconem founder Yves Ubelmann, whose grandfather was an architect who worked on restoring Mont-Saint-Michel, believes this kind of preservation is critical to helping future generations experience and connect with important pieces of our history and heritage.
–Yves Ubelmann, Co-founder and CEO, Iconem
“3D digital models will allow people to travel not only through space, but also in time, because they’ll effectively be able to walk through environments that no longer exist. Digital technologies today allow us to reconnect with these pieces of history.”
Today, digital map-makers are picking up where their predecessors left off, filling in important gaps through artificial intelligence and mixed reality. Rather than technology being at odds with culture, it’s proving to be an essential tool in preserving and showcasing it for subsequent generations.
“Seattle is such an innovative city, and to realize that that same innovation that’s helping us figure out how to navigate the future is also a technology that can help us better understand the past,” Garfield says.
The Musée des Plans-Reliefs is a museum of military models located within the Hôtel des Invalides in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France.
Historical large scale 3D relief maps on display at the Musee Des Plans-Relief
The museum is partnering with Microsoft to present “The Mont Saint-Michel: Digital perspectives on the model,” a Microsoft HoloLens 2 mixed reality experience that melds cutting-edge technology of the 17th century with cutting-edge technology of today that’s poised to open up our perspective on the future and blends the digital world with the physical world.
The Musee des Plans-Reliefs in Paris is home to more than 100 of these historic relief maps that have withstood the test of time. But the crown jewel of the collection is the model of Mont-Saint-Michel—a rocky headland off the Normandy coast with a Benedictine abbey that’s an architectural marvel in its own right — presented by a monk to Louis XIV in 1701. Microsoft AI along with a new HoloLens 2 experience are bringing these technological feats, both the relief map and Mont-Saint-Michel itself, to life for a new generation.
But the crown jewel of the collection is the model of Mont-Saint-Michel—a rocky headland off the Normandy coast with a Benedictine abbey that’s an architectural marvel in its own right—presented by a monk to Louis XIV in 1701.
The model of Mont-Saint-Michel will be on display at MOHAI starting Nov. 23 through Jan. 26. Adding to the physical model will be an immersive mixed reality experience. Unlike many virtual reality viewers, which block out the world around the viewer, “With the HoloLens 2 you are aware of all your surroundings,” says Leonard Garfield, MOHAI executive director. “You’re in a room with other people, you’re enjoying the model, but it just adds that extra dimension of information and perspective.”
“I just couldn’t believe how it made me not only appreciate the model itself, which is an incredible work of craftsmanship that is hundreds of years old, but it gives you this insight into the actual Mont-Saint-Michel, because suddenly the model becomes a real-life place that you walk through and you experience and you learn and literally you are there,” says Garfield.
To adapt the story of this is incredible landmark for today’s digitally savvy audience, Microsoft partnered with the French companies HoloForge Interactive and Iconem. Iconem, which specializes in digitizing cultural heritage sites in 3D, recreated the Mont-Saint-Michel model and site using a process where algorithms using Microsoft AI process hundreds of thousands of photos—taken by drones and cameras on the ground—to render models that are so precise, they look fully photo-realistic.
Microsoft’s AI for Cultural Heritage leverages the power of AI to empower people and organizations dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of cultural heritage.
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