NMA, CSIRO reassemble Phar Lap virtually


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 04 November, 2013


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In time for the Melbourne Cup, the National Museum of Australia and the CSIRO will offer virtual tours of the surviving body parts of legendary racehorse Phar Lap.

The museum is using CSIRO’s Museum Robot to provide guided virtual tours to students from three schools from their own classroom.

Phar Lap’s heart is on display at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, his hide is at the Melbourne Museum and his skeleton at Wellington’s Museum of New Zealand. This will mark the first tour showing the three exhibits at the same time, albeit virtually.

Students from schools in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland will be able to interact with museum experts through the Museum Robot and can control their own view of the exhibits using the robot’s 360° panoramic camera.

Robert Bunzli, manager of the museum robot program at the National Museum of Australia, said the technology has, to date, been used for 70 virtual tours for nearly 1000 participants at schools and libraries. “The feedback from teachers and students has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said.

CSIRO robotics expert Dr Jonathan Roberts added that the organisation is now exploring expanding the mobile telepresence system used in the program to other areas.

“At the moment, we are investigating how this system could be used to remotely deliver health services such as providing specialist services to regional and remote communities, conducting medical training or facilitating remote ward rounds,” he said.

Pictured: A virtual tour of Phar Lap’s heart exhibit.

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