The New Interactive: Reimagining Visual Collections as Immersive Environments

  • Jeffrey P. Emanuel Harvard University
  • Christopher M. Morse Harvard University
  • Luke Hollis Archimedes Digital
Keywords: interoperability, visual resources, augmented reality, virtual reality, experiential interface design, geographic information systems (GIS), International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF)


Emerging technologies and shared standards have opened up new avenues for the curation and presentation of data in archives and published research. Among their many benefits, these developments have made collections across archives more accessible, and have vastly improved the visual experience for users. This paper focuses on the next step in applying technical development and standards to digital collections: improving discoverability and providing a visual product that is simultaneously informative and experiential. The cases presented here focus on new approaches in these areas, with an emphasis on the utilization of visual search and discovery across a research archive and the integration of data and image into an augmented reality (AR) experience, with discussion of how these approaches can improve the usability of visual material while broadening the user's experience from the purely visual into the realm of the immersive.

Author Biographies

Jeffrey P. Emanuel, Harvard University

Jeffrey P. Emanuel is Associate Director of Academic Technology and CHS Fellow in Aegean Archaeology and Prehistory at Harvard University. In his academic technology role, he focuses on the development and effective use of new and emerging technologies in 21st century research and pedagogy, with a particular emphasis on the application of digital tools and techniques to the Humanities.

Christopher M. Morse, Harvard University

Christopher Morse is Humanities Research Computing Specialist for Arts and Humanities Research Computing at Harvard University. In this role he supports faculty digital humanities initiatives as a consultant and developer, runs workshops on emerging web technologies, and collaborates across the university to organize and host symposia on digital research and new media. He holds a Master's in Digital Media and Instructional Design and a Master of Theological Studies, both from Harvard University.

Luke Hollis, Archimedes Digital

Luke Hollis is the founder of Archimedes Digital, a Cambridge-based startup dedicated to software and mixed reality development for the humanities. The artists, developers, and archivists at Archimedes create software that does not further distract and isolate users but instead connects us to our shared traditions and cultures. He is also a poet and translator of Theocritus and other pastoral Greek poets. Luke has excavated with the Contrada Agnese Project at Morgantina since 2012.