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Moon Viewer: Under the Spotlight

To celebrate the recent beta launch of the Moon Viewer app, we will be casting the spotlight on the final session of the Culture Reimagined Virtual Summit. A session in which Hans Biorn Lian and Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder of Royal Museums Greenwich showcased the beta launch of this truly immersive app.

Moon Viewer App

Throughout the session, both speakers echoed the key themes of the Summit: the power of layered experiences and the importance of digital experimentation. Moon Viewer shows how these new mediums have the ability to inspire the next generation of astronomers. The collaboration between Musemio and Royal Museums Greenwich demonstrates the tangible benefits of experimenting, piloting and prototyping. Despite being a self-confessed ‘digital sceptic’, Biorn-Lian reinforced that ‘when digital is done right, in a suitable medium, nothing beats it.’

Moon Viewer’s genesis

Kriss Baird, UFI VocTech Project Manager, began the session with a discussion about the genesis of the app. What started out as an experiment, quickly blossomed into a viable product. Olga Kravchenko, Musemio’s Co-Founder, initiated the collaboration when she sent Biorn-Lian a Musemio cardboard VR headset. Biorn-Lian was immediately enamoured with the simple, yet effective technology.

“It didn’t require anything expensive; you could have a personal experience with something analogue and with your phone.” — Hans Biorn-Lian

Musemio VR Cardboard Headset via Musemio

This initial interaction coincided with Royal Museums Greenwich’s exhibition in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission. Inspired by the Mapparium in Massachusetts, Biorn-Lian wanted to create a similarly innovative concept. He wanted to allow the user could step inside the Moon, see it with the correct proportions and get an immersive experience “with a sense of innocent awe.”

The team at Musemio built a minimum viable prototype which kickstarted a collaborative process of digital experimentation and piloting. As Senior Manager of Public Astronomy at the Royal Observatory and with a background in research as an astrophysicist, Dr Drabek-Maunder proved integral to the project. Her insights enabled the Moon Viewer app to achieve such an accurate representation of the lunar surface.

Moon Viewer app

Moon Viewer, available on Apple and Android, possesses both 2D and VR functionalities. This enables you to decide how you want to experience the lunar surface. The app allows you to take in an orbital view of the Moon and chart humanity’s exploration of the lunar surface, both crewed and robotic.

Screenshot taken from Moon Viewer app

Moon Viewer’s interactive and educational value comes from the ability to discover all Moon missions and its geography at your own pace. Each mission includes a retro vector rendering of the spacecraft, statistics and a short description. Moon Viewer’s inverted spherical projection helped to achieve Biorn-Lian’s initial ambitions for the project.

“It is just you and the moon, which highlights the purity and focus of the experience. It is immersive, it really does draw you in!” — Hans Biorn-Lian

“The virtual reality technology allows people to interact and experience the moon in a way that they have not had a chance to do. What is nice is that the user can decide what they want to learn about and what they want to look at on the Moon. Not only can individuals download the app and do their own learning, but also it can be used in museum-like workshops.” — Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder

Screenshot taken from Moon Viewer app

The success of this collaboration between Musemio and Royal Museums Greenwich has fuelled the appetite for future innovation and immersive experiences.

“[The collaboration with Musemio] was great and to Musemio’s credit they were so patient. Innovation has been a theme since the beginning of the Symposium and this product is pretty innovative. It has not really been done before.” — Hans Biorn-Lian

What next?

As the final session drew to a close, Biorn-Lian announced that he hoped Moon Viewer 2.0 would include the different phases of the moon, a scale for registration markers and haptic feedback. Whilst Dr Drabek-Maunder noted that this collaboration would be the precursor to an Earth Viewer experience.

“Earth Viewer will allow you to understand the Earth’s curvature and how it distorts the size of countries.”

The panel even muted the possibility of exploring other planets in the future.

Watch this space!

Download Moon Viewer via the App Store: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/moon-viewer/id1540937816

Download Moon Viewer via Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Musemio.MoonViewer&hl=en&gl=US

To watch a full recording of the Culture Reimagined Virtual Summit: https://youtu.be/yrA8QEF9TDA

To find out more about Musemio, visit: https://musemio.com/

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We believe in making art, culture, and history accessible to all children through technology.

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