(Studi Uniti, Florence, Italy)

Keywords: assessment, Augmented Reality, cognitive technologies

AR technologies applications in museums have been abruptly growing in the last few years, but the metrics used for evaluating their impact on the museum public is often based only on qualitative analyses. This simplified approach may give results strongly biased by the “interpretation” of the perception each user gives according to his culture, tradition, attitude to the use of technology, etc., rather than the actual psycho-physiological response induced by the immersion in a synthetically enriched environment.
Recently the chapel inside Palazzo Medici in Florence, frescoed with the “Procession of the Magi” by Benozzo Gozzoli, was used for an experiment of guided perception with the support of multimedia technologies and Augmented Reality in the workshop, “Procession in time through to the splendor of the interior epiphany.” The aim of that project was to integrate aesthetic-historic-philological studies relating to the artistic product and its genesis, directing attention at the response of the observer in relation to the aesthetic experience. The immersion itinerary was thus focused on the analysis of the observer’s capacity to enter into contact with the work of art through the sensory channels and on the manner in which this relation can be augmented. This fostered a phenomenological relationship with the work of art, and the relation in turn became the subject of research to detect the psychological and physical reactions, and in particular the emotional response.
The visitors were involved in an impact assessment detected through qualitative (collection of data in the form of interviews, comments, visual images and documents) and quantitative psycho-physiological tools. The latter are based on the measurement of certain physiological parameters (heartbeat, respiratory rate, oxygen consumption, brain mapping etc.) that express psycho-emotive correlates.  The reactions occurring during the itinerary of images, symbols and sounds are investigated to discern the reaction of the entire psyche-soma system, and in particular the emotional reactions.