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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Now access Indian heritage in VR

By Sitara Shah
Photography: Courtesy Sitara Shah
Read Time: 2 mins
virtual reality app on ajanta caves
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Interaction designer Sitara Shah in association with a team at IDC School of Design develops a Virtual Reality app that allows you to explore the heritage Ajanta caves at leisure…

The Ajanta Caves with their 30 rock-cut Buddhist caves and narrative paintings based on the Jatakas tales, monolithic architecture, history and archeology will soon be accessible via a virtual reality app that will facilitate interactions with different aspects of the caves without being physically present there. A separate model of one of the caves (Cave 23) with its information is being designed for an immersive walk through with the help of VR headsets.

virtual reality app on ajanta caves
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virtual reality app on ajanta caves
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The thought stems from the fact that the multitude of tourists thronging the caves and subsequent lack of adherent regulations to minimize vandalism has led authorities to permit only a few-minutes stopover at the caves, dissuading the genuine knowledge-seeker and deterring historical engagement and discourse. Flash photography and filming is also strictly forbidden.

checking out virtual reality app on ajanta caves
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My project goal was to create a model that combats this existing scenario and gives the culture-thirsty populace an experience to remember. With technology at the forefront, I have created a framework for information distribution and its associated interactions for cave 23.

virtual reality app on ajanta cave 23
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The design process includes collection of all the information of the Cave 23, mapping it to the appropriate interaction and creating a prototype with some of the mapped information. This prototype can be used to create similar VR experiences for all the caves of Ajanta in future.

timeline for virtual reality app on ajanta caves
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Additionally, I have also re-designed the timeline visualisation of the caves to have a better understanding of where, when and under whose reign the caves were excavated.

virtual reality app on ajanta caves
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virtual reality app on ajanta caves
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Ajanta caves, being a rich historical and an architectural site needs to be known and appreciated by all. The VR experience is an attempt to reach out to maximum enthusiasts and replicate this experience for other caves and maybe other historical sites too.

timeline for virtual reality app on ajanta caves
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The two apps - one for all the caves and their information regarding painting, architecture, patrons etc. and the other one for immersive walk-through of cave 23 are scheduled to be ready by early December 2016 and March 2017 respectively. Both – un-christened as yet - will be available for Android. 

Sitara Shah is a User Experience Designer with a Masters in Interaction design. Her expertise lies in user-centric design, extensive user study and information architecture. Data visualisation is another field that she quite appreciates. She can be contacted on sitara.shah7@gmail.com.

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