Exhibition designer John Sunderland is claiming a technological breakthrough with a device that will enable archaeological sites to be more accessible to the public.
Called TimeFrameTM, Sunderland’s invention incorporates a stand-alone screen through which people will be able to see an interactive “interpretation” of what has happened on the site in the past. “It’s a time machine that uses data,” says Sunderland, who is reluctant to explain the detailed workings at this stage. “You look through a window and see ghosts of the past.”
The device will, he hopes, help bridge the gap between archaeology and tourism. “It is difficult for tourism bodies to come to terms with archaeologically sensitive sites,” he says.
Sunderland’s concept has been developed with project management by the virtual reality team of an international computer company for a site in East Flanders, Belgium. A prototype will be unveiled there in July as part of a 30m project by the Provincial Government of East Flanders to open up a site in the village of Ename, near Oudenarde.
Sunderland is project designer on the scheme dubbed TimeScape, which involves the creation of a visitors’ centre, an archaeological park and LifeScape, an Internet collaboration linking sites worldwide to provide a resource known as Mirror of Mankind.
East Flanders has funded development of the TimeFrameTM prototype separately and will take six units for TimeScape. Sunderland retains ownership of the idea through his new company TimeFrame Solutions.