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How the Wax Museum is using Pokémon tech to bring Brendan Behan to life

Augmented Reality features will add an extra layer of experience at the attraction’s new home.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

THE WAXWORKS AT the Wax Museum’s new home will come out and talk to you.

Not literally, of course. But Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality specialists have been brought in to help make the attraction more interactive and educational, as preparations continue for next month’s planned opening.

The revamped museum has also been ‘gamified’: people can use their phones to follow clues and collect ‘treasure’, as they make their way around the exhibits.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie at a media tour of the under-construction museum on Westmoreland Street this week, Eoghan Kidney of Antics VR said he tended to reference Pokémon Go when describing the new feature, as it was something a broad audience understood.

Everyone has a screen in their pocket these days, Kidney said.

“So we’re taking that hardware and offering visitors an app that they can install that, as they move through the museum, will give them an extra virtual layer of experience that hopefully will add more value to their visit.

There’ll also be opportunities to look at pieces of video through the app. There’ll be loads of extra information. It will offer different languages so people from different countries can have a better experience.

While the gaming features on offer in the museum will obviously be on a much smaller scale than Pokémon:

They’re both augmented reality. They both use the camera on your phone and overlay digital 3D objects into the world that the camera sees.

Kidney showed off two demo versions of the features that will be offered – including a virtual tour of the city, and an interactive Brendan Behan.

The museum’s not quite finished – so you still have to use your imagination to a degree. A picture of the famous Dublin writer was standing in for his waxwork this week, Kidney explained, “because his head is still in a box in my office”.

But the concept was clear as he demonstrated how it worked: hold your phone in front of the figure, and the writer’s floating head will appear on your phone, telling you more about his life and work.

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Kidney and his colleagues in Antics VR spent about two months on research and development before the elements that would be included in the new museum began to take shape, he explained.

Initially, the attraction’s owner, Paddy Dunning, said he was interested in both VR and AR – but space restrictions at the new O’Connell Bridge-adjacent location meant that any potential VR projects had to be put on hold for the moment.

“In future attractions, we’re looking at it.”

Formerly located near the Black Church to the north of Parnell Square, the wax museum brand was taken over and relaunched by Dunning as the National Wax Museum Plus, near College Green, back in 2009. It vacated that property before Christmas, after the Irish Stock Exchange bought the building.

rte56 Work continuing at the new Wax Museum on Wednesday. Source: Rollingnews.ie

While some of the old 1980s and 1990s-era figures will be on view again on Westmoreland Street, the new attraction couldn’t be further removed from the old northside version of the museum, which was owned by former Fianna Fáil TD and Senator Donie Cassidy.

In addition to the obligatory Chamber of Horrors, there’ll be a music room, an area dedicated to Irish myths and legends and displays dedicated to characters from The Simpsons, along with other fairytale and sci-fi inspired features. Downstairs, it’s planned, there’ll be several history areas covering everything from 1916 to the Good Friday Agreement. Star Wars features heavily too – and there’ll be an area dedicated to Father Ted.

You’ll also be able to buy reproductions of the wax figures, if you have deep enough pockets. And, thanks to new 3D technology, there’ll even be an opportunity to replicate yourself (click here to take a look at our tour of the museum).

Read: The Wax Museum is back (again) – just don’t call it a Wax Museum >

Read: Dublin’s Wax Museum to close within two weeks after Stock Exchange court push >

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