The Natural History Museum has launched a new interactive film that allows visitors to walk, well sit, with dinosaurs using augmented reality.

The film, which is narrated by David Attenborough, uses three independent screens, web cams and specially designed handheld devices that allow you to take part in a virtual journey through evolutionary history. It launched today at the Attenborough Studio at the museum.

The Who Do You Think You Really Are? interactive film
The Who Do You Think You Really Are? interactive film

A truly collaborative project led by the Natural History Museum Interactive Media team, the interactive film uses a mix of CGI models developed with support of the Wellcome Trust, BBC natural history footage and interviews with leading Natural History Museum scientists to explore how we have gradually evolved from the earliest life form.

Using the handsets, which have been designed by Pentagram and feature augmented reality animations created by Shadow Industries and Trace Media, allow the audience to see life forms from the film imposed onto other people in the auditorium.

Ailsa Barry, head of interactive media at the Natural History Museum, says, ‘Evolution is at the heart of what we do so we wanted to develop something around that. It’s complex so we hope that if we could produce something that really engaged people that they’d be able to take on more information.’

The Who Do You Think You Really Are? interactive film
The Who Do You Think You Really Are? interactive film

As well as allowing the audience the experience of seeing dinosaurs hang out with their friends, the screens are used to answer questions about the film during the screening, which are then tied into the narrative of the film.

The screens allow users to take photos of themselves, which are used the explain evolution, and zoom in and rotate objects, such as skulls, which feature in the film.

Barry says, ‘We wanted to really personalise the film so taking a photo of yourself really links it right back to the body.’

Each user’s personal journey can be saved to the internet and then accessed once they have left the museum.

It’s a great project which really captures the magic of science and how new technology can be used to inspire and engage audiences.

Who do you think you really are? is shown every day at 3.30pm in the Attenborough Studio, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road

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