The pyramid of Cheops as you have never seen it

The pyramid of Cheops as you have never seen it

VIDEO – The ScanPyramidsVR experience allows you to visit the Giza plateau in virtual reality. We tested a prototype installed in the basement of the Cité de l’Architecture in Paris.

Contemplate the pyramids and walk like a giant on the Giza plateau. Cross the walls to better see the internal structure of these titanic tombs. Climb to the top of the pyramid of Cheops or descend into its depths to visit the queen’s chamber, forbidden to the public. All these experiences, and many more, are now possible. And there is no need to travel to Egypt for this.

In the basement of the Cité de l’Architecture, in Paris, the Emissive company has set up an impressive prototype of a virtual reality (VR) tour of the pyramids of Giza, thanks to the support of the Dassault Systèmes Foundation (*). The company is working closely with the scientific mission ScanPyramids, which recently unearthed a gigantic cavity in the pyramid of Cheops.

A large vaulted hall made of carved stones of more than 400 square meters serves as a playground. The room is lined with motion detectors. An Oculus virtual reality headset connected to a powerful computer worn on the back then make it possible to “transport” on the Giza plateau. The device will certainly seem cumbersome to us in a few years (let’s remember the size of the first “walkman”…), but let’s not overdo it: the result is stunning realism despite textures still a little rough (a defect largely related to the resolution of the helmet screens).

After a few minutes, we quickly forget that our body is surveying a basement in the capital. We are in full immersion in the Egypt of the pharaohs. The museography is still sketchy, but it doesn’t matter. We wander around this virtual universe like children in an amusement park. We hesitate to get out of virtual glass platforms so as not to find ourselves in a vacuum. We naturally stoop to avoid hitting our heads in the corridors of the Great Pyramid. Every change of point of view is a (small) celebration.

Emissive is working on the optimization of museography to evolve several groups simultaneously in its virtual universe. Emissive for ScanPyramids

Unfortunately, the device is not yet open to the general public. The Emissive company wants to optimize the visit so that several groups, up to 30 people in total, can walk around the same space without getting into it. Or find a way to “virtualize” the guide who accompanied us during the hour that the visit lasted. It would also be necessary to improve the visual aspect of the avatars, which at the moment look like gross pawns of board games, and find solutions for support for visitors who could not stand VR (after half an hour frolicking happily and completely unruly in this setting, a slight nausea may begin to be felt…).

If these barriers are removed, and funding is found, the “ScanPyramidsVR” experience could open to the public as early as 2018. Whether this is the case or not, the technology will not remain confidential. Similar experiences of “virtual tourism” should not take long to see the light of day.

(*) Dassault Systèmes is a company of the Dassault Group, owner of Le Figaro.

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