VR Tour App ‘MasterWorks’ Uses Photogrammetry to Bring You to 4 Fully Explorable Heritage Sites


MasterWorks: Journey Through History (2018) is a new app for Oculus Rift and Gear VR that takes you on a guided tour through four cultural sites spanning three continents. Created using photogrammetry and presented with audio clips from experts, collectible artifacts and 3D 360 photos, the app does more than just let you explore the sites; it preserves these sites digitally while teaching you about the real-world threats they face amidst a rapidly changing climate.

Spanning over 3000 years of human history, you’ll be able to visit:

  • The historical city of Ayutthaya, Thailand, the second  capital of the Siamese Kingdom
  • Chavín de Huántar, a pre-Incan temple in the Peruvian Andes
  • Mesa Verde Native American cliff dwellings of Colorado
  • The stone carvings of Mt Rushmore in South Dakota

You can download MasterWorks: Journey Through History for Rift here, and for Gear VR here.

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Norman Chan and Jeremy Williams of Tested visited CyArk, the studio behind MasterWorks, to talk a little about how they captured the sites.

Founded in 2003, the non-profit company’s mission, CyArk CEO John Ristevski told Tested, is to capture, share and archive the world’s cultural heritage.

“We capture these places in accurate 3D, we archive it in case something happens to these sites – in case of destruction or damage – and we also makes this data available in interesting ways, such as in VR,” Ristevski explained.

The studio does this by using a laser-scanning Light Detection and Ranging device (LIDAR) and photo imagery using professional-level DSLRs and imagery captured via drones. Combining these two fundamental techniques, the company can make highly-accurate recreations of scenes like the ones seen below.

As it stands now, the process of creating these experiences is still pretty arduous, requiring between 5-7 days of on-site time to capture an area about the size of a quarter-mile squared area (about 400m squared).

CyArk Director of Product Scott Lee tells Tested their team uses motion-controlled camera rigs to capture the photos, which he says ensures the required 60-80 percent overlap is obtained to generate the photogrammetric models.

You can check out the full video interview here.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Jeffrey Edwards

    Both of the links provided in the article are for the Gear VR. The software IS available for the Rift; just search for it. Ex: https://www.oculus.com/experiences/rift/1364510803659063/

    • Thanks for catching that, Jeffrey! I’ve fixed it now to direct to the appropriate store links.

      • Loretta

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      • chuan_l

        — ” They’re master works all , you can’t go wrong “

  • PoTemos Comunismo

    Why they relevase for less than 50 % os Theft vr population? Releasing in Oculus is a waste of time… if you release in OpenVR works in Vive, Pimax 4K, Pimax 8K, OSVR… why release only for that demon company called Oculus.

    • Jean-Sebastien Perron

      Because open vr is limited, no reset view position. And most innovations in vr were implemented in ocusus years before open vr

  • Martijn Valk

    Looks awesome! I love these apps where you can explore places and find out information about them, I think (and hope) a great future exists for this. Another one I can recommend is Realities (free on Steam).

    It’s a shame though it’s not released on Vive, but here’s hoping they will in the near future ;)

    • Aretha Williams

      Gℴℴgle is giving now 97 dollars per/hr to do easy tasks onnet … Work Some just few hours in a whole day and live happy more time together with your family .. You can do this golden chance!!on Wednesday I bought a great Car just after making $9265 this past six weeks .it is fantastic but you wo’nt forgive yourself if you do not read it.!bf202v:> http://GoogleRealEasyMoneyOnline/getcash/$97/everyhour ♥c♥♥♥l♥♥q♥♥q♥u♥r♥♥♥x♥♥♥r♥u♥♥♥w♥♥♥k♥♥♥x♥♥q♥♥t♥♥♥e♥♥s♥y♥m♥♥♥s♥♥♥b♥l♥♥n♥p♥♥♥y♥o::!ff582h:tgsw

  • Wow, looks incredible!

  • oompah

    Tech can be improved to mount
    LIDAR+cameras on drones
    let these fly around & capture the monuments
    and then automatic post-processing computer
    would create the final digital landscape
    for u to walk thru in VR
    I believe that a fully functional system should be
    able to cover one big monument in 1-2 days
    or better still, when used on light poles
    continuous monitoring LIDAR+cams can even create
    a realtime VR when every pixel also has x,y,z location
    So u want to visit Taj Mahal at night on full moon?

  • Luke

    Why no Vive?!