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Journey to the heart of the pyramid of Cheops thanks to virtual reality

PYRAMID. Explore the rooms inaccessible to the public of the Great Pyramid of Cheops ! A difficult dream to fulfill when you are not an Egyptologist or field archaeologist… except maybe through virtual reality. Because the ScanPyramids mission, which revealed on November 2, 2017 by a scientific article published in Nature the existence of a hidden cavity of 30 meters within the pyramid of Cheops thanks to muon detectors, also embarked specialists in 3D imaging for virtual reality of the company Emissive, with the support of the Dassault Systèmes foundation. The goal : to design a virtual reality exhibition to visit the pyramid and understand how these latest discoveries were conducted. Sciences et Avenir was able to live the experience in preview at the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine in Paris.

Credits: Emissive for ScanPyramids

Visit the inaccessible, under a rain of muons

Once the virtual reality headset (an Occulus Rift) is put on, it is a 40-minute immersion that awaits the visitor, guided by a lecturer who points to the (virtual) laser the various elements of the world reconstructed in 3D. It also triggers the transitions and makes teleporters appear between the different areas, accessible or not to the public in the” real ” Egyptian pyramid. An interior journey that allows you to visit all the known corridors of the monument, from the breakthrough of Al-Mamoun dug in the year 820 to the great gallery passing by the king’s chamber, a vast cube of 10 meters by 5 meters overlooked by several meters of granite, with the acoustic reverberation so particular. At the detour, we also survey the cavity of the northeast corner and the notch allowing access. An overhanging point where archaeologists climbing the building could rest for a while before continuing on their way to the top.

MOLT. Along this amazing route, we orient ourselves thanks to a three-dimensional plan of the galleries that is displayed in transparency when we observe around us, and this from unprecedented points of observation, since normally caught in the mass of granite. What also visualize the detection prisms of muon telescopes that track these cosmic particles in real time, poetic experience where we literally visualize a rain of muons. “These high-energy particles mostly fall from the sky, but are held back by matter. So we can deduce the density of the matter that a detected muon passed through, a physical phenomenon that made it possible to discover the cavity located about 40 meters from the queen’s chamber”, recalls Emmanuel Guerriero, co-founder of Emissive.

Textures reconstructed from more than 10,000 photographs

By participating in the ScanPyramids expeditions as a graphic partner, Emissive was able to document the 3D morphology of the inside of the pyramid by laser imaging, but also the textures of the corridors, thanks to more than 10,000 photographs. “We realized that this raw material was worth gold and that we had to do something with it,” says Emmanuel Guerriero.

SCALE. The other interest of virtual reality, beyond its immersive aspect, lies in the changes of scale it allows. “We can thus alternate aerial views where the pyramid appears as small as a model, with faithful reconstructions on scale 1. In order to facilitate scripting, we have defined teleporters that allow you to move from one view to another. For now it is a conference-type visit guided by a human, but we are considering to include a virtual guide, exploration modes reminiscent of the adventure game, even a personalization of visitors ‘avatars,” continues the co-founder of Emissive, who recalls that this project has so far been self-funded. These virtual reality specialists are now looking for new partners to open this experience to the general public during 2018.

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