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Heritage and the Digital Hack Days

Heritage and the Digital Hack Days are a series of events facilitated by the Heritage and the Digital RPA – a network of researchers and facilities at the University of Nottingham focusing on applications of new technologies in the disciplines of the humanities. The Heritage and the Digital RPA is led by Dr Bedwell and Dr Katharina Lorenz.

  • Each Hack Day is a free event, funded by the Heritage and the Digital RPA.
  • Each event is suitable for enthusiasts, practitioners and professionals who engage the public with heritage. No technical skills are required!
  • Buffet lunches will be provided along with refreshments throughout each event, and free parking is available.
  • Please contact Dr. Bedwell (benjamin.bedwell@nottingham.ac.uk) in advance of the event that you will attend to request a parking permit, and to detail any dietary requirements.

#3: All things 3D

  • Tickets: available now
  • Location: The Salon, Wollaton Hall, Nottingham
  • Date/time: April 22 2016, 10.30am-4.00pm

At this final event in the current series, attendees will have the opportunity to see demonstrations and talks from researchers working on a range of different 3D technologies, including 3D scanning, printing and 3D interaction. Researchers from the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab will discuss the pitfalls and opportunities in low-cost 3D printing, while Dr Gary Priestnall will bring back PARM and walk through the process of mapping landscapes and turning this data into interactive 3D models. Finally, experts from the University’s Digital Humanities Centre will reveal a variety of approaches to 3D scanning, ranging from highly specialised scanning equipment to innovative uses of off-the-shelf products such as Microsoft’s Kinect.

#2: Interactive Visuals

  • Location: The Salon, Wollaton Hall, Nottingham
  • Date/time: February 12 2016, 10.30am-4.00pm

At this second event, Dr Ben Bedwell will introduce interactive visual markers with a short demonstration of how to scan and create free QR codes. Dr Stefan Rennick-Egglestone then leads a day of practical work, exploring the wider possibilities for interactive visuals using Artcodes – a free visual recognition app that allows for bespoke, hand drawn (or otherwise crafted) interactive markers. Attendees will learn how to draw Artcodes, how to adapt existing designs and logos to become interactive markers, and how to use the markers to trigger exciting mobile experiences.

#1: Interactive Exhibits

  • Location: The Salon, Wollaton Hall, Nottingham
  • Date/time: October 16 2015, 10.30am-4.00pm

Dr Ben Bedwell leads a day of hands-on activities, exploring exciting new possibilities for interactive exhibits. The event will include demonstrations by Dr Gary Priestnall and Dr Sue Cobb from active University of Nottingham research projects, focusing on applications of new, low cost technologies to create interactive museum and gallery exhibits. Supervised by Dr Bedwell, attendees will also build their own interactive exhibitions – learning how to use low-cost NFC (Near Field Communication) tags and QR codes to create exhibits that visitors can tap and scan with their mobiles to access additional information and multimedia.

Further information about the projects on show in hackday #1

Dr Gary Priestnall and members of his research team will demonstrate a range of prototypes that use PARM – a form of geographic visualisation where digital mapping and imagery is projected down onto a physical landscape model, sometimes utilising a touchscreen interface and a monitor. This results in a holographic effect which attracts and holds attention but also provides a true 3D frame of reference for displaying patterns in space and through time in a broader landscape context, either for public display or decision support.


PARM has previously been used to create the ‘Spots of Time’ installation, presenting key moments in Wordsworth’s childhood which related to landscape but also influenced poetry written in later life. Before being installed at the Trust in August 2012 the ‘Spots of Time’ PARM system was presented at the ‘Electronic Visualization and the Arts, London’ (EVA London) conference in July 2012, where it won the ‘Best Demonstration’ prize.

Dr Priestnall will also bring an example of his use of Google Earth to create gallery exhibits, as used previously in collaboration with the Wordsworth Trust. The aim of this collaboration was to create a Google Earth Virtual tour to place a series of landscape drawings into their spatial context. The tour was designed to complement an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Edward Lear which ran from July to October 2009. Seven paintings were chosen to represent the geographical extent of Lear’s tour and the different styles of drawing involved in the exhibtion.

Dr Sue Cobb and members of her project team will demonstrate a prototype from the 3D-PITOTI project. 3D-PITOTI is an EU-funded project involving a multidisciplinary team of over 30 scientists from across Europe who have developed new technologies for 3D scanning and visualisation of rock art in the Valcamonica, Italy. This UNESCO World Heritage site in the Lombardy region of northern Italy has over 300,000 individual images depicting hunting, duelling and dancing scenes from about 4000 BC into medieval times. The project aims to create a 3D scientists lab to allow archaeologists to learn more about the rock art by studying the 3-dimensional characteristics of the art work and its location in the 70km valley.

Digitisation of the rock art enables preservation of an important catalogue of story-telling of European history. Digital models allow us to ‘take the rock-art to people’ for the first time and disseminate the ‘Pitoti’ story to a much wider audience in interactive and engaging ways.

At the Hack Day, members of the project team from the University of Nottingham will demonstrate a prototype augmented reality application in which users can scan Pitoti images themselves using a tablet device and create their own 3D-animated stories about the Valcamonica rock art. Visitors will be invited to comment on the prototype design and contribute to ‘co-design’ activities to suggest further development.

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