What was it like to walk around Jerusalem during King David’s reign or during the battle to conquer the Old City in 1967? The Tower of David – Museum of the History of Jerusalem launched last week a special augmented reality tour that enables visitors to explore the area with the help of a very unique tour guide: no less than King David himself.At the beginning of the tour, visitors receive tablets and headphones that allow them to explore the site with a combination of virtual 3D characters and actual monuments thanks to a technology that combines digital story-telling, machine learning and data analysis.Besides the legendary fight between a young David and the Philistine giant Goliath, the experience focuses on two pivotal moments of the history of the city. Ori Noam is co-founder and CEO of Mars, the start-up company that developed the technology. He told The Jerusalem Post that the Great Revolt against the Romans and the Six Day War would also be highlighted with the new technology.“Visitors can interact with the characters and our technology also creates a personal experience based on interests: for example, what is offered to children is going to be more adventurous and interactive than what is in store for adults who might be less drawn to games and more to content,” he said.Users will not only be able to see arrow volleys arrows shot by Roman archers against Jewish soldiers, they can also target 1967 enemy planes, and have the chance to take a stroll with historical characters.Noam explained that they worked side by side with the museum’s experts to assure historical accuracy.“I remember a very long discussion about how to design Goliath’s helmet and how to place the feather on it because what we had imagined resembled more the helmet of a Roman general than the one of a Philistine soldier,” he said.
Founded about two years ago, Mars has been cooperating with the Tower of David Museum for about a year to produce the new tour, with an animation team creating the characters in Los Angeles and another group working in Tel Aviv.The project has been developed within the Tower of David Museum’s Innovation Lab with the support of the Jerusalem Development Authority.The Innovation Lab aims to bring together the expanding start-up ecosystem in Jerusalem, investors and hi-tech companies to develop new imaging and illustrative technologies that can be used to enhance the visitor experience.“For quite some time, we have been looking for innovative, engaging and exciting ways to make the Tower of David Museum and the history of Jerusalem and its stories more accessible to the wide and varied audience that visits the museum every year,” director Eilat Lieber said.“Israel is the hi-tech leader in many fields, but the world of historical and archeological content has remained on the back burner. The Innovation Lab of the Tower of David Museum is dedicated to the development of experiences for visitors and works with innovative technologies in order to enrich the experience, and to illustrate content in a creative manner,” she added.The tour is about 20 minutes long and costs NIS 20. At the end of the visit, everyone can take home a special memory: a selfie in perfect 21st-century style with David and Goliath. “The impressive archeological garden, the exhibition halls, the 360-degree panoramic view over the city, the ‘Kishle’ which was built in 1834, pools from the time of Herod, secret passages and rooftops of various heights, all these make the Tower of David an excellent test site for innovative technology, which digitally and interactively enriches the experience of the visitor,” Eilat concluded.