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Abstract

TRavelogue with Augmented Cultural and Contemporary Experience (TRACCE) project aims to design and develop an innovative ubiquitous platform for cultural routes, and different computing devices, using cultural inventory of travelogue literature, the digital material of today's travelers and new information and communication technology. It will offer cultural interpretation services that combine the visit of an area with the acquaintance of the historically recorded and the contemporary touring experience. The services address mainly to tourism professionals and cultural institutions, in order to design specialized tours (routes, guided tours, exhibition guides, interpreting programs, etc.) that will enhance visitor' s experience. Through the study of the travel material and today's travel experience, as is found in social media, the conceptual representation of the wider travel experience will emerge, bringing together yesterday and today. By exploiting semantic web technologies, the computational representation of domain knowledge will be achieved and it will facilitate intelligent data management. As a result, data management will lead to data organization, data enrichment from openly interconnected data and data visualization through augmented reality technologies, while user evaluation methodologies will contribute to the improvement of cultural experiences. The TRACCE ubiquitous platform will include the aforementioned technologies and methodologies, eventually creating a synthetic digital narrative that combines digital representations with natural tours. Intelligent Interaction research group of the University of the Aegean and the Honest Partners will collaborate with the other members of the consortium within the context of TRACCE and contribute to its main research goals.
Travelogue with Augmented
Cultural and Contemporary Experience
Efthymia Moraitou1, Markos Konstantakis1, Chrysa Kontaki2, Ioannis Aliprantis1,
Eirini Kalatha1, Pantelis Kalavrytinos2, Andreas Tsigris2, Panagiotis Tsougkrianis2,
Christos Anagnostopoulos1, George Caridakis1
1 University of the Aegean, School of Social Sciences, Department of Cultural Technology and
Communication, Mytilene, Greece
2 Honest Partners, Digital Services, Athens, Greece
e.moraitou@aegean.gr,mkonstadakis@aegean.gr,
xkontaki@honestpartners.gr,ialiprantis@aegean.gr,
ekalatha@aegean.gr,pantelis@honestpartners.gr,
atsigris@honestpartners.gr,panagiotis@honestpartners.gr,
canag@aegean.gr,gcari@aegean.gr
Abstract. TRavelogue with Augmented Cultural and Contemporary Experience
(TRACCE) project aims to design and develop an innovative ubiquitous
platform for cultural routes, and different computing devices, using cultural
inventory of travelogue literature, the digital material of today’s travelers and
new information and communication technology. It will offer cultural
interpretation services that combine the visit of an area with the acquaintance of
the historically recorded and the contemporary touring experience. The services
address mainly to tourism professionals and cultural institutions, in order to
design specialized tours (routes, guided tours, exhibition guides, interpreting
programs, etc.) that will enhance visitor’ s experience. Through the study of the
travel material and today’s travel experience, as is found in social media, the
conceptual representation of the wider travel experience will emerge, bringing
together yesterday and today. By exploiting semantic web technologies, the
computational representation of domain knowledge will be achieved and it will
facilitate intelligent data management. As a result, data management will lead to
data organization, data enrichment from openly interconnected data and data
visualization through augmented reality technologies, while user evaluation
methodologies will contribute to the improvement of cultural experiences. The
TRACCE ubiquitous platform will include the aforementioned technologies and
methodologies, eventually creating a synthetic digital narrative that combines
digital representations with natural tours. Intelligent Interaction research group
of the University of the Aegean and the Honest Partners will collaborate with
the other members of the consortium within the context of TRACCE and
contribute to its main research goals.
Keywords: Travelogue Experience, Ubiquitous Platform, Augmented Reality,
Storytelling, Semantic web technologies.
2
1 Introduction
As modern trends indicate, visitors seek to be involved in extraordinary and unique
experiences [4, 9, 10], especially those who enable them to live new cultural
experiences with creative services. Meanwhile, modern developments in the
information and communication field facilitate the access to extended cultural
databases, thus being able to shape new cultural products and “edutainment” methods.
In the same context, TRavelogue with Augmented Cultural and Contemporary
Experience (TRACCE) project proposes an innovative approach that will enrich and
enhance the modern visitors’ experience.
TRACCE will offer cultural interpretation services that combine the visit of an area
with the acquaintance of the historically recorded and the contemporary touring
experience: the user follows the historical trail of a 17th or 19th traveller, while retains
access to a variety of contemporary information sources and other travellers
experiences, as well as having the ability to compose his own. The services address
mainly to tourism professionals and cultural institutions, in order to design specialized
tours (routes, guided tours, exhibition guides, interpreting programs, etc.) that will
enhance the visitor experience. The operation of the platform will be indicatively
presented through the creation of six (6) routes with content from the Laskarides
Foundation.
The main idea of TRACCE derives from the significantly interesting material of
the touring secretariat and the look that the travellers brought at the societies of
Ottoman Greece from 17th to 19th century. The concept of travelogue accounts covers
all texts and images handed down by travellers of Western Europe, who in a printed
document or manuscript related their experience, knowledge or vision of travelling in
the area of the Mediterranean and Southeastern Europe or who described the area in
their work. This material reflects the perception of how Europe, at any given time of
its history, has viewed the places, people and monuments that travellers saw during
their voyages. The combination of documented iconography with the census of rich
testimonies found in the travel texts and images, can be valuable for the development
of cultural applications. In this context, Honest Partners has the experience of a
relevant multimedia application titled “Athens through the eyes of travellers: 17th to
19th century” (Benaki Museum, 2006), thus will contribute to TRACCE for the
expansion of travelogue material use in culture and tourism domains. Intelligent
Interaction Research Group will undertake the overall TRACCE project coordination.
In addition, utilizing existing know-how and, in particular, exploring the relevant
scientific fields, will contribute to its research activities.
2 TRACCE Project
2.1 Idea and Main Goals
Today, more than ever before, Cultural Heritage Institutions provide the digital
documentation of their collections to the public using the world wide web. In this
context, semantic web technologies could efficiently support the management and
promotion of cultural information, considering its variety and heterogeneity [1, 5, 8].
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Especially the use of ontologies and linked open data (LOD), as well as their
combination with geodata, seem to be a very popular idea for cultural knowledge
diffusion and presentation [1, 2, 3, 6]. Furthermore, focusing on the aspect of
information visualisation at indoors and outdoors cultural spaces, the combination of
LOD and augmented reality technologies have been proved very interesting for the
users on the sectors of cultural heritage and tourism respectively [7, 11].
Through the study of the travel material and today’s travel experience, as it is
found in social media, the conceptual representation of the wider travel experience
will emerge, bringing together past and present. By exploiting semantic web
technologies, the computational representation of domain knowledge will be achieved
and it will facilitate intelligent data management. As a result, data management will
lead to data organization, data enrichment from openly interconnected data and data
visualization through augmented reality technologies. The TRACCE ubiquitous
platform will include all the above mentioned technologies, eventually creating a
synthetic digital narrative that combines digital representations with natural tours.
Primary objectives of the TRACCE project are:
Design and implementation of a new cultural product that will provide complex
cultural tourism services and can be directly commercially exploited.
Connection of the project to the National Strategy for Research and Innovation
based on Smart Specialization (RIS3 strategy), combining two of the eight critical
sectors of the National Strategy: Information Technologies and Tourism - Culture -
Creative Industries.
Transfer of technology and knowledge from research institutions to companies
through their synergy within the Project.
Based on the aforementioned objectives, TRACCE project proposes the
combination of digital storytelling with physical tours in order to enhance the
historical touring experience, with the use of organized data based on ontologies.
Moreover, the narratives will be further enhanced by reconstructing the physical and
virtual echoes of the past travelers and the use of special effects that travel users to the
past. The historical three-dimensional stochastic sound environment that will be
created can be explored by the user experientially, moving in the space, as mobile
data from the device’s sensors about positioning, movement and orientation will be
used to track user’s position. Meanwhile, TRACCE's narratives can be merged with
modern experiences provided by the users. This new information could potentially be
incorporated into the existing narrative, bridging the time distance between past and
present.
In conclusion, the center of TRACCE project activity will be the study, design and
development of a ubiquitous platform, accessed by different devices, which will
combine the visit of an area with the presentation and promotion of historical and
temporary travel experience. Therefore, it will provide the necessary content and tools
for the creation of cultural routes enriched with related texts, images and sounds,
which will accompany travellers during their tour and will inspire them to add new
material.
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2.2 Methodology and Development Stages
Key for the success of TRACCE objectives is the development of a pervasive
platform (web platform and hybrid mobile application). TRACCE’s implementation
is based on the following methodology (a) research for travel publications as well as
modern tourist experiences; (b) research and development of standards for the digital
representation of travel experiences in order to semantically organize and link data;
(c) implementation of the pervasive platform and its services for the creation of
Augmented Reality narratives; (d) Design, development and distribution of interactive
applications (e) evaluation of the pilot application and research for future business
exploitation.
To begin with, research and study modern travel information will result in a
comprehensive understanding and analysis of the touring experience, related to both
the intangible and tangible Cultural Heritage, as well as to the modern tourism
industry. Metadata collection and concept definition from the lifelong learning
experience - which will also benefit from the ToposText results of the Aikaterini
Laskaridis Foundation, which is a partner in the project - will lead to the creation of a
wider ontology using RDF ontology development technologies, OWL and OWL2,
that will include related areas of interest. Basic requirement for expanding and
correlating the concepts is the research of ontologies and metadata standards that have
been exploited in the Culture, Tourism and Geography fields. Ontology development
will be accomplished by using free software that facilitates the definition of classes,
subclasses, relationships, individuals, constraints and attributes that will further enrich
the ontology and allow the intelligent management of the travel information.
By exploiting ontologies and the SPARQL query language of the Semantic Web,
data stored in repositories will be retrieved and can be semantically integrated into the
pervasive platform to be constructed. Linked Open Data (LOD) that have been
collected and assigned to the narrative ontology will be stored in an RDF repository.
Data integration and storing will facilitate to the creation of dynamic Augmented
Reality applications. As a result, a number of versatile digital tours will be created,
surrounded by contextual data. All the information that has been derived from the
travel material and its further enrichment with relevant data from Cultural Institutes
repositories will be displayed on digital maps that exploit geodata and semantic web
techniques.
The pervasive platform that will be constructed during the project, should utilize
the necessary development tools and services to support the two most popular
platforms, iOS and Android. This platform will also incorporate augmented reality
techniques by using the camera and screen on user's mobile device to display digital
information in layers in front of natural environment (see Fig. 1). To achieve this,
mobile development platforms that use digital data and 3D models will be used, using
GPS sensor-based tracking techniques and possibly image recognition to achieve
better accuracy. The basic goal is to display the appropriate information in situ based
5
on parameters like position and orientation of the user's mobile device, which will
then be adapted to the user's preferences and interests with LOD framework and
integration techniques. Selected tools should allow free use, giving full potential for
deploying an application without commercial restrictions. Also, these tools should
support MVC (Model - View - Controller) architectures to optimize the data flow to
the user, allowing the construction of complex programs, friendly user interface and
natural interaction. Finally, selected tools should be widespread and popular enough
to be supported by a living community of developers.
It will also be possible to instantly share experiences and add new points of interest
(PoIs) into the narratives through the pervasive platform. While walking through
proposed and predefined routes, users will be able to add geotags to the map with
comments or photos from their experience that will be visible in both their social
profiles as well as other users who will be participating in the corresponding route in
the future. As a result, it will be possible to enrich the interaction between users in the
application, and integrate the application in the social networking cloud, adding also
to its promotion and advertising.
Additionally, the final platform with its services will be evaluated by cultural
tourism. Selected user experience evaluation methodologies will be used for the
review process. The most appropriate methods for evaluating cultural heritage
applications will be selected, and the platform’s evaluation will be carried out before
its official release. Finally, a further analysis of needs and opportunities will be made
to exploit the results of the project, and then a feasibility study on product
sustainability and market promotion will be conducted, and also the results of the
project will be published to the public and the wider scientific community.
Fig. 1 Ubiquitous platform architecture according to TRACCE approach.
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3 Project Partners
TRACCE consortium includes Intelligent Interaction Research Group of University of
the Aegean, Tourism and Entrepreneurship Research Lab of the Technological
Educational Institute (TEI) of Crete, The Laboratory of Music Acoustics and
Technology (LabMAT) of the Department of Musical Studies (DMS) of the National
& Kapodistrian University of Athens (NTUA), the companies Honest Partners and
Communication & Information Technology (Comitech), as well as Aikaterini
Laskaridis Foundation. The partnership of the cooperating bodies is a fundamental
obligation at all stages of the project development until its completion.
More specifically:
Intelligent Interaction (II-http://ii.aegean.gr/) research group established in 2016
and it is active in the areas of Human Computer Interaction, Intelligent Systems
and Cultural Heritage Management. George Caridakis, Professor of the
Department of Cultural Technology and Communication of the University of the
Aegean is founder of the group and he is coordinating its educational and research
and development activities. The group's activities are supported mainly by a Digital
Cultural Heritage Management Center through Regional Business Program (PEP
South Aegean) which provides relevant services to the cultural institutions,
enabling the management of cultural heritage. In its third year of operation, the
research team has participated in National and European conferences and has
publications in reputable scientific journals. Additionally the team has joined and is
an active member of National and International Organizations and Associations
such as the gi-Cluster (Cluster of Creative Industries), Alliance for Internet of
Things Innovation (AIOTI) (AIOTI), Lora Alliance, Arterial Network, RISE and
Culture Action Europe. In the same context, the team participates and coordinates
the TRACCE (TRavelogue with Augmented Cultural and Contemporary
Experience) research project, recently funded by the GSRT in Greece. In addition,
utilizing existing know-how and, in particular, exploring the relevant scientific
fields, will contribute to its research activities in identifying system requirements,
semantic content representation, platform implementation, pilot implementation
and evaluation.
The Tourism and Entrepreneurship Laboratory serves a dual research and
educational mandate upon the fields of tourism, culture, entrepreneurship and local
and regional economic development. All these are achieved through the use of
applied Economics and Management science. At the same time, the tourism and
entrepreneurship laboratory aims to contribute towards the facilitation of business
decision making, and the dissemination of consultancy research in order to inform
policy making and planning at a local, regional and national level. Tourism and
Entrepreneurship Laboratory (TenLab) TEI Crete will participate in scientifically
exploring the users’ needs of the application, evaluating its implementation and
exploring the business uses of the results.
Honest Partners (HPA) specializes in digital value adding projects for public,
private and commercial clients, producing digital media, interactive software and
immersive installations. Experience in providing integrated IT services that
combine strategic planning, modern design and innovative performance along with
outstanding technical know-how in delivering solutions for distinguished culture
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organizations, constitute HPA’s competitive advantage. On the Culture Consulting
/ Culture Informatics field, HPA is covering digital strategies for cultural
organisations, having a wealth of experience in planning and analysis. HPA’s
competitive advantage is its reputation of excellence in Digital Cultural Heritage
Management and Digital Culture Consulting, with the appliance of HPA’s own
technical infrastructure and unique methodology. The Company studies each
organization’s profile, cultural capital and target audience so that it can shape its
digital identity in a way which will make the institution digitally recognizable.
Projects around the audience’s creative output, show HPA’s experience and
systems to handle everything from small scale programmes to huge open art
competitions or building an interactive community for institutions’ target audience.
Digitization, web and mobile apps, in-gallery interactives and digital marketing are
indicative of HPA services for culture organizations. For TRACCE, Honest
Partners company has developed an initial investment plan with a clear defined
activities in Greece and mainly abroad in fields covered by the activities of the
proposed project. In this project, Honest Partners will be involved in designing and
developing the digital cultural product and the feasibility study on the final
product, and will be responsible for two work packages related to Development of
ubiquitous platform services.
Communication & Information Technology (Comitech) has experience in
providing consulting, IT and communications solutions and applications, and
producing multimedia content for the Internet. In this project, Comitech will
participate in agreed actions on the design and development of the digital cultural
product and the feasibility study.
Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation scope is to promote Greek arts and letters as well
as maritime tradition and history. As an active and lively cultural educational
organization, it organizes and performs every year a large number of cultural and
educational programmes. The Foundation participates in TRACCE in the provision
of primary iconographic material from its depository, the study and the scientific
documentation of nine book publications, its contribution to the design of cultural
routes and the expertise gained from the innovative projects Travelogues and
ToposText as support for platform’s design.
The Laboratory of Music Acoustics & Technology (LabMAT) (NTUA) was
founded in 2004 under the Department of Music Studies (DMS) of the School of
Philosophy of the University of Athens with the initiative of the Professor
Charalampos Spiridis while he was the Director of the Department from 2004 to
2015. The Laboratory will participate in the creation of sound-walks for the
augmented narratives of the platform.
3.1 Intelligent Interaction Contribution
Despite being a new research group, II will participate in TRACCE project to a large
extend, undertaking the management of the whole approach. This is due to the fact
that TRACCE project aggregates a number of different fields and applications which
are included in II group’s areas of research.
More specifically, II will work on requirements definition for the designing and the
services of TRACCE main system, as well as their integration on the architecture of
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the ubiquitous platform. In the same context, different use case scenarios will be
developed, complementing the whole design. The members of II group have already
worked on User Experience design and evaluation, focusing their research on cultural
applications and services. Therefore they have defined a different aspect of UX, the
one of Cultural User Experience, studying its value and impact on different categories
of users. Based on these UX models, in the context of TRACCE, II will conduct
interviews and focus on groups, but also observe how potential users react on their
tours. At the same time II would create standard prototype screens to be analyzed and
discussed with the respective focus groups.
Furthermore, II will contribute on knowledge representation and information
modelling of historical and contemporary travelogue experience. To this aim, it will
define and organise relevant concepts and relations, based on the study of historically
documented travelogue experience as well as the current touristic experience and its
perception. In the same direction, II members will continue their study on the
capabilities of semantic web technologies, the use of ontologies, thesaurus and
metadata standards on the domains of Cultural Heritage and Tourism. The
aforementioned technologies will be included on the organization and management of
travelogue information and its use on storytelling and visualization modules.
Eventually, II’s interest on cultural heritage LOD and the use of augmented reality
will be included as well on TRACCE project. One of the II’s goal is to use
Augmented Reality techniques in order to achieve natural interactions in their
implementations, enriching the interface of the applications and facilitating smoother
interaction between user and application. Augmented Reality techniques can be also
utilized in displaying complex content using graphics, multimedia and 3D models,
thus providing a more friendly and practical way. Finally, II members exploit
Augmented Reality methods to contribute in mobile guides for museums and cultural
heritage institutions, aiming in enriching cultural user’s experience.
3.2 Honest Partners Contribution
Honest Partners (HPA) will participate in TRACCE developing a specific investment
plan with a clear identification of activities and areas focused on the project interest.
HPA will also be involved in the digital product design/development process and the
feasibility study on testing the market and the impact of the final culture product.
HPA’s study on new business models is going to highlight sustainable and
innovative products (e.g. tourist guides) exploring multiple ways of digital cultural
content production and audience development. HPA wishes to capitalize on Company
knowledge acquired by participation in Cultural tourism projects with the ultimate
goal to create an integrated approach to cultural routes practice. Within this
framework, we need to explore a sustainable business model where technology meets
the wider economy of culture and creativity. As expected to become a catalyst in
culture services, our high added value product will have competitive advantages in
international cultural market while also promoting the intercultural dialogue through
travelers over time.
More specifically, HPA will participate on the following:
Technical/Functional requirements and System architecture
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Use cases and scenarios that include the different role of users and the way they
will interact with the platform.
A study exploring digital technologies and social media issues in contemporary
tourist experience.
User interface design for social networking and interconnected data engaging
innovative approaches for multimedia material sharing in order to provide a
personalized experience model.
Implementation of the mobile web application, built on a core hybrid technology
platform that contains primary and transformed content, spatial mapping and
content targeted to multiple operators.
Developing the computational infrastructure for crowd sourcing experience,
enabling the visitor to record and share dynamic multimedia content using her
personal device. The approach adopted will exploit the semantic representation of
both content and travel experience.
Design/Developing the application for six thematic cultural routes
Approaching market mapping and strategy perspectives / Sustainable investing
4 Project Challenges and Discussion
TRACCE project suggests a different approach for the exploration of travelogue
experience and its exploitation using historical material and innovative technologies.
While there are some interesting publications and related projects in the wider area,
TRACCE consortium has identified many exciting challenges and opportunities that
remain open for further research and development.
First and foremost, cultural LOD based on georeferences have been exploited by
mixed reality mobile applications, emerging as interactive and useful tools for
exploring a user's environment. Nevertheless, the semantic correlations between
geographic and cultural data have been proven far more complicated, due to the
parameter of historical time which differentiates the presentation of data for a specific
place. The challenge in this case is the semantic representation of geographic
knowledge, as it has arisen according to the historical evolution and the changes of
the structured and unstructured landscape. TRACCE will work on this direction in
order to achieve the best possible knowledge modeling. Furthermore, TRACCE study
will focus on a domain of historical material, the one of travel accounts, which has not
been highly processed and promoted yet.
One more disadvantage of approaches which combine georeferences and cultural
LOD is that they place the user's position as the only criterion for information search
and retrieval. In particular, the scenario of semantic information presentation with AR
technology has the potential to overload user's screen, preventing the readability of
the collected information and making difficult for the user to observe his
environment. Therefore, TRACCE will face this difficulty by filtering LOD to keep
only what meets user's expectations and then enrich the AR application with
information. Semantic web data gathering can thus be used to create a virtual layer
that overlaps the analogue world, enriching the user's perception.
In the same context, it would be interesting the information personalization based
on metadata automatically extracted via social media or cookies which are related to
10
particular points of interest. On top of that, the possibility of user to directly choose an
area of interest or document its orientation and motion will be examined.
Consequently, the material presented will be customized and targeted according to
each user, a process that is still considered as a challenge for this domain.
In conclusion, the targeting of TRACCE is very ambitious since it includes the
creation of a pervasive platform that will facilitate the production of enhanced
narratives and, on the other hand, incorporates the current state of the art technologies
and extends beyond it for optimized augmented reality applications with linked open
data, linking digital application with physical space.
5 Acknowledgments
The research and writing of this paper was financially supported by the General
Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT). Additionally, John Aliprantis and
Eirini Kalatha have been awarded with a scholarship for their PhD research from the
“1st Call for PhD Scholarships by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and
Innovation (HFRI).“Grant Codes 234 and 1347”.
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... Intertwined with the CH domain is also the field of tourism. Efforts towards smart discovery of cultural routes incorporating data from heterogeneous sources and geospatial semantics have been conducted [42], [60], [61]. Another aspect within the correlation of CH with tourism, is the provided user experience, where attempts to improve the UX and enhance the visitor's interaction with cultural objects have been committed [45], [47], in some cases even by deploying Augmented Reality features [49]. ...
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... (pic.) Also, in the field of cultural heritage there have also been efforts and platform's implementation to augment the user's experience like the TRACCE project [8] , an innovative ubiquitous platform for cultural routes, and different computing devices, using cultural inventory of travelogue literature like, supporting the development of thematic tourism products and their promotion through the creation of touristic thematic routes. ...
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Semantic Web GIS Services for Cultural Heritage Domain
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