Why not virtually spruce up your living room with some 16th century samurai armor?

It looks like people around the world are gradually emerging from quarantine and other degrees of self-isolation. But with the results of this movement still unclear, even in the best case it’ll be quite some time before we all start heading out en masse to large attractions such as museums, poo-based or otherwise.

Fukuoka City Museum, on the other hand, has taken a pro-active approach, and teamed up with the Fukuoka-based AR magicians at Steampunk Digital to bring the exhibits to you, wherever you are!

Dubbed Enjoy 3D Fukuoka City Museum AT Home (Ouchi De Tanoshimeru Fukuoka-shi Hakubutsukan) the project lets you examine accurate 3-D models of seven items dating back up to nearly 500 years.

▼ Steampunk Digital’s Aaron Hilton with a 3-D model of Kuroda Yoshitaka’s armor from Fukuoka City Museum

Image: © Takashi Yoshinaga

“As things got into lockdown, they were on the lookout for content which people could enjoy during the ‘Stay Home‘ period,” Steampunk Digital president Aaron Hilton told us, “It was so great to be so close to the literal treasures of Japan! And in turn we got to give everyone that experience in AR and VR too.”

Right from the museum’s website, you can look at these treasures from any angle except the bottom, since the scanning equipment can’t reach there, and also zoom in rather close. This means that in many ways you can view the items more intimately than you would be able to in the actual museum. For example, if you were viewing it in the halls of Fukuoka City Museum, you might not even be able to notice the Tokugawa family crests painted on the back of this wooden statue of Tokugawa Ieyasu from 1652.

Image: © SoraNews24

Also, if you have a device such as a smartphone or tablet, the real fun begins when switching to AR mode. Now these full-scale items can look just like they’re right in your own home or place of work.

▼ Oh, that’s just my daughter playing with her blocks and a rare geisha doll made by master Japanese puppet maker Yoichi Kojima in 1914

Image: © SoraNews24

By now you might be thinking, “That’s great, but I don’t have room in my cluttered apartment for a full suit of samurai armor, virtual or otherwise.”

Well, no problem because you can also scale down the items to fit in just about any space.

Image: © SoraNews24

Or, when you’re feeling lonely at work you can just conjure up a full-sized courtesan.

Image: © SoraNews24

It’s all done with pretty tight AR work by Steampunk Digital. Hilton has been building game engines and 3-D models since he was a preteen.

▼ Hilton demonstrating an AR within an AR inception

Image: © Takashi Yoshinaga

If you’ve got beefy enough gear you can even get a sense of depth, allowing for possible photo ops with your favorite pieces. Pokémon GO can’t even do that.

Image: © SoraNews24

The best part about all this is that you don’t even need any special app to use this. Just head over to the museum’s website linked below and click the link to the artifact you want to see, and that’s it! The system works with the latest editions of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Internet Explorer is not compatible, which is unfortunate for the employees of certain major Japanese companies and the ten other people still using it around the world.

Currently only seven items are available, but Hilton tells us more are on the way: “We have the go-ahead to do more with the museum. We can’t announce anything yet, but we are very excited to do more amazing AR in the very near future.” In the meantime, I’d recommend starting with the Tokugawa statue as it looks the nicest, but hopefully more virtual history is in the works. Then, maybe I can finally get a nice Jomon cup for my desk.

*At the time of this writing the Android AR compatibility was not up yet, but was due in the following day or so. If it is not working yet, it should be very soon.

Source: Enjoy 3D Fukuoka City Museum AT Home, Steampunk Digital
Top image: © Takashi Yoshinaga
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