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The 3D virtual simulation of the Vrouw Maria

The 3D virtual simulation of the Vrouw Maria created a new angle on the accessibility of underwater cultural heritage by visualising an underwater world in a way never seen before. The simulation allows anyone at all to make an underwater journey around the Vrouw Maria and the landscape in which it is located in an underwater valley which no single human being has actually ever been able to see before in its entirety, given the limited visibility under water.

The 3D virtual simulation was on display in the Maritime Museum of Finland's exhibition "Lost at sea - the story of the Vrouw Maria and the St. Mikael" 24 April 2012 - 13 January 2013. The simulation is housed in a dimly lit space separated by curtains. It is easy to use. The user presses a button to select the language version desired (Finnish, Swedish, English, Dutch or Russian) and goes to stand in the centre of the compass square wearing 3D glasses. Users move through the virtual world of the simulation by pointing their hand in the direction they want to go, up, down, left or right. The technology uses Microsoft's Kinect sensor. Only one person can navigate in the compass square at a time. Others can watch from the side.

The simulation begins by presenting the passing of time since the sinking of the Vrouw Maria in 1771 to the present day. This is followed by an interactive section in which visitors are free to navigate virtually around the wreck itself and the underwater valley in which it lies. The simulation also allows visitors to listen to the sounds that create the underwater atmosphere. The simulation contains 14 information points which provide more information about the wreck and its landscape using video, photos, text and sound samples. The virtual technology in the simulation offers an opportunity to filter out the poor underwater visibility and limited human hearing ability under the water. The simulation presents one possible interpretation of the wreck and its landscape and soundscape, partly based on inter-disciplinary data gathered on site. It does not seek to offer a one-to-one reality and experience but an experience that is reminiscent of the location of the Vrouw Maria.

The simulation was produced in partnership with Aalto University's Media Lab. Experts from various disciplines were involved in creating it, including archaeologists, experts in historical ship construction, marine biologists, architects, exhibition designers, underwater acoustics experts, and experts in virtual technology. See list of contributors.


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Last updated 30.10.2015
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