Although a Virtual Reality experience using 3D scans and 3D prints may sound expensive or far-fetched for many smaller or precariously funded cultural heritage institutions, VRtefacts actually uses low-end versions of these technologies. We have taken pains to lower the barriers to entry in as many ways as possible, including free resources and software available for low or no cost – which therefore appeals to a huge pool of less-than-expert users, who have created a wealth of free resources anyone can use.
And, of course, these technologies are developing in directions we cannot foresee. We therefore present VRtefacts as a set of instructions for how to use the technologies currently available – always prioritising those with the lowest cost and greatest ease of use.
Because VRtefacts can use more advanced technologies right now and those not yet on the market, it will be robust for the foreseeable future. We cannot guarantee how any individual technological component will be supported, but we are sure that where one becomes obsolete, plenty of alternatives will emerge in its place.
VRtefacts already addresses the main risks to users regarding Virtual Reality: namely, the potential for mild nausea, the risk of injury while moving through a physical space that cannot be seen, and the learning curve for many museum visitors of navigation and control.
Risks to museum collections depend entirely on the nature of those collections, which individual curators are best placed to assess and manage. So while we encourage museums to include very large, very small, and very fragile items in your set of 3D representations, individual curators are the best judges of risk when it comes to standing on ladders to photograph large items, potential damage to fragile artefacts, etc.
Curators will either already have or quickly put in place ways to handle the ethical and legal use of any story content they may choose to keep. For these, they can consult best practice guidelines most relevant to their own situation and legal jurisdiction.