Α PATTERN-BASED AUGMENTED REALITY APPLICATION FOR THE DISSEMINATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE
Keywords: Cultural Heritage, Augmented Reality, Computer Vision, mobile app, Photogrammetry, 3D modelling
Abstract. Augmented Reality (AR) is more than an added value for Cultural Heritage (CH); it is vital for its sustainability, promotion and dissemination, increasing accessibility in CH even during difficult periods of time, like the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to be meaningful and engaging, an AR application should have the following characteristics: easiness of use, high-quality representations and compatibility. This paper presents a marker-less mobile AR application for the display and inspection of high-resolution 3D cultural assets, overlayed on a particular location in the real-world scene. Instead of predefined markers, an image captured by the user is exploited as a pattern for real-time feature matching, pose estimation and scene augmentation. Our approach is based on pure computer vision and photogrammetric techniques, implemented using native C++ and Java code for Android mobile platforms. It is built with the use of the OpenCV library and the OpenGL ES graphics API without any dependencies of AR Software Development Kits (SDKs). Therefore, it supports cross-vendor portability regarding mobile model devices and hardware specifications. The evaluation of the developed application examines the performance of various matching techniques and the overall responsiveness of processing and 3D rendering on mid-range and low-end smartphones. The results showcase the reliability and responsiveness of the pattern recognition as well as the potential of the 3D graphics engine to render and overlay complex 3D models balancing between visual quality and time. The proposed methodology is applied to the Ciborium of the church of St. Charalabos, located at St. Stephen’s Monastery in Meteora, Greece.