The School of Engineering’s Human Interface Technologies (HIT) Team has visualised a 3D recreation of the historic vessel, the Mayflower, leaving the famous Hoe seafront, passing Drake’s Island and sailing out into the English Channel.  This is another ‘world first’ in the field of Virtual Heritage.

The exercise was conducted as part of the HIT Team’s ongoing involvement with the Mayflower 400 programme. Working with groups in Plymouth, Dartmouth, Southampton and Worcester and Droitwich, the HIT team use Augmented Reality (AR) to deliver a range of innovative digital experiences for the benefit of the public and schoolchildren nationwide in 2020 and beyond. The demonstrations were completed just a day before the staging of a number of events in Plymouth to mark the start of the “1000-day” countdown to the 2020 commemorations**.

Professor Bob Stone, the HIT Team’s Director explained that this achievement of a detailed graphical recreation of the iconic ship was just an early step in the journey towards the planned 2020 “virtual launch” from Plymouth and “virtual arrival” in the USA: “We still have much work to do in creating a truly convincing 3D model of the Mayflower, complete with animated passengers, crew and cargo.  Nevertheless, this early trial, conducted live on Plymouth Hoe confirmed that we are on the right track when it comes to developing believable effects relating to such features as the movement of sails and flags, the ship’s bow wave and wake, and the visual blurring necessary to create credible sense of changes in depth and distance over the route of the virtual ship whilst superimposed onto the real-world scene”.

Professor Bob Stone and members of the HIT team working on the augmented reality representation of the Mayflower ship
Augmented reality representation of the Mayflower ship at sea

In additionto the ’sailing’ of the Mayflower, the Team took the opportunity to recreate the sailing of the HMS Beagle.  On 27 December 1831, the Beagle departed Barn Pool, travelled across the Hamoaze (the estuary of the River Tamar) from Devil’s Point. The significance of the departure of the Beagle was that the ship was to be home to the famous British naturalist Charles Darwin for the next five years.

Augmented reality representation of the Mayflower ship at sea

** See also the #GetOnBoard2020 leaflet (PDF):