The augmented reality (AR) experience at Madame Tussauds takes visiting the museum to an exciting new level. Madame Tussauds in Washington, DC is one of the first museums to bridge both technology and history lessons together via augmented reality. My family and I were among the first visitors to try out the new AR experience. Augmented reality, feels a lot like virtual reality, and makes learning more accessible, and extraordinary.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality works by projecting virtual images displayed over real-world objects, think of SnapChat filters or Pokemon Go. The display appears immediately on top of the object in the room through a device like smart glasses. Therefore, through the use of AR technology virtual objects and vidoes are displayed with real objects.
The Augmented Reality Experience
Upon entering the museum, we put on the augmented reality smart glasses, earbuds, and controllers and explored the museum. When we looked through the lenses a little screen appeared in the upper right-hand corner of the glasses. The first part of the AR experience was a welcome message with Madame Tussaud herself. As we walked from exhibit-to-exhibit we were able to see not only the items in the room but also 3D images, videos and audio about them. The images on the smart glasses shared more information about the items on display. While on the tour, we learned unusual facts of information that people would normally have to read on a placard near the wax figures. We even answered questions, helped historical figures and helped find hidden objects in the room which made learning about the historical figures such as Richard Nixon and Martin Luther King more interesting.
The Augmented Reality Experience Makes Information More Accessible
Certainly, visiting Madame Tussauds is an incredible experience, but having an opportunity to learn more through augmented reality makes the information more fun, accessible, and unforgettable. Thanks to the AR technology provided by Richmond-based ARtGlass, instead of just looking at the figurines, the visitor’s experience is interactive. Every visitor that uses the AR technology will be on a guided tour, which makes the walkthrough more like a video game than a trip through the museum.
AR Changes the Experience
Although this was my first time visiting Madame Tussauds in Washington DC, I believe the AR experience enhanced visitors’ participation. For instance, a few years ago I visited Madame Tussauds in Hollywood. While there, I felt more like an observer than a participant. What I love about the one in D.C is that the AR made the wax fixures come alive in a unique way. AR gave the figures a voice they wouldn’t have otherwise. As a result, visitors can remember distinct facts about the person in the display or their historical time period.
Overall, it was a real treat to feel like I had gone back in time and I was able to hear former president Abraham Lincoln’s voice when he said the first few words of the Gettysburg Address. In addition, each of my family members enjoyed trying to find the electronic bug in the room near the exhibit of former president Nixon. However, one of the most memorable parts for me was sitting in the bus seat, in the Rosa Park exhibit, and seeing the bus driver, James Blake, in the smart glasses saying, “Move to the back of the bus.” I could feel the leather on the old bus, and hear the force of his voice.
I would highly recommend Madame Tussauds augmented reality experience for all families. The audio for the AR experience will be available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. Remember, when you visit Madame Tussauds, take a few extra minutes to immerse yourself in the new AR experience. AR will undoubtedly make the museum visit feel like an upgrade as you learn more about America’s history.