An underwater virtual reality project, iMareCulture, which is being launched by the Cyprus University of Technology (TEPAK) in Limassol has secured total EU funding of €2.7m over the next three years after scoring 14 out of 15 in open competition.
The EU competition called for projects that involve the creation of virtual museums and social platforms on European digital heritage, memory, identity and cultural interaction.
TEPAK’s programme iMareCulture focuses on underwater cultural heritage. The university said their proposal was one of only four out of 96 proposals submitted that won funding in the competition.
It said that although the commercial sea routes of antiquity, and ancient shipwrecks, constituted irrefutable proof of cultural interaction in the Mediterranean, “unfortunately, because of their nature, ancient shipwrecks and submerged archaeological sites are inaccessible to the public”.
iMareCulture will explore ways to bring this inherently inaccessible sunken cultural heritage to the general public through the use of virtual reality, which will involve collecting, processing and creating three-dimensional versions of existing underwater shipwrecks. On completion of the programme, remote visitors will be able to have a personalised visit to the underwater environment through a virtual reality museum using interactive holograms.
The plan also includes real-time images through tablets placed at the underwater sites that will transmit data as to the exact locations of the shipwrecks and information about their history.
Other than TEPAK, around ten universities will take part in the project including the University of Cyprus’ MARELAB department, the Concordia University of Canada, France’s Aix Marseille University and University of Lisbon in Portugal.