(ETT S.p.A., Italy)

Keywords: Oculus Rift, ICT, advanced technologies,virtual reality

The paper will describe an Oculus Rift application in a cultural heritage immersive exhibit, developed by the ICT company ETT S.p.A., for the Medieval Castle in Monteverde, located in Avellino province (southern Italy) and dating from the ninth century. The exhibit – now under construction – will open in August 2014.
The project is a development of the approach that advanced technologies can be used to enhance visitor engagement and ‘absorb’ them into the storyline.
This concept is applied in the castle Throne Room, where the visitor sits on a rotating chair and – wearing an Oculus Rift device – has a 360° view of a 3D reconstruction of the hall, complete with detailed and life-like furniture and fittings. In this way, visitors experience a real ‘time-shift’ into the atmosphere of the medieval period, aiding storytelling and transforming them into an active participant in the ‘story’ narrated by the historical site.
The project will exploit Oculus Rift’s features in order to obtain – as a final result – a deep-level immersive virtual reality environment. It creates the sensation of being entirely transported into a virtual three-dimensional world and can provide a far more intuitive experience than screen-based media. By removing an interface layer between the user and the experience, Oculus Rift has huge potential and will be able to have deep emotional impact on users. It has the enormous ability to deceive the brain into feeling that a particular situation or setting is ‘really there!’.