Cultural heritage has always been an effervescent subject among historians, sociologists, naturalists, scientists and researchers alike. The physical and intangible legacy of previous generations is passed via this channel to future members of the society. It is a deliberate act, as conserving the results of past work, culture and even biodiversity is in the very nature of the human beings.

There are several ways to ensure the success of conserving the national culture. The responsibility of our generation is to follow the most efficient ones, and to support the activities which lead to the preservation of historic places (buildings, monuments), artifacts (books, paintings, sculptures and other artworks), traditions and folklore, language and landscapes.

With the recent advancements in the field of virtual reality, intelligent systems and based on the emergence of the information society, we can now ascend to modern cultural heritage preservation techniques. Using augmented and virtual reality, 3D immersive graphics and real-time haptic equipment, people can now restore, reproduce and experience the sight of historical sites in new more interactive ways. Intelligent systems allow different customization, ease complex problems (such as the reassembling of frescos, the reconstruction of lost monuments or the interaction with the general public).

There are many important advantages of mixing some parts of the cultural heritage with these new technologies. Based on the reproduction concept, it is now possible to analyze different aspects of the past events, to see objects which have been lost in the previous centuries, to touch sculptures, admire art and walk and talk with royal characters from other ages. The intangible parts of the culture can also be translated in the virtual heritage. Songs, stories, national dances and other specific customs can be seen and users can interact i.e. by the help of serious games, or using advanced user interfaces (such as information landmarks, intelligent GUIs and others).

eHERITAGE (‘Expanding the Research and Innovation Capacity in Cultural Heritage Virtual Reality Applications’) is a Coordination and Support project which addresses the “twinning” challenges described in the topic H2020-TWINN-2015 of the Work programme. Starting with the 1st of November, 2015, eHERITAGE project is supported by the Research Executive Agency (REA), under the power delegated by the European Commission, under grant number 692103.

More specifically, the eHERITAGE project coordinating institution (University Transilvania of Brasov – UTBv) will achieve excellence in the field of virtual heritage by twinning with 2 research centers which present themselves as top expert entities in the defined field of study. UTBv already has generic experience in VR applications with specific accent of preserving cultural sites thanks to its previous projects, and with the help of the partners, it will broaden this experience and enhance its R&I capacity.

eHERITAGE will support the training and transfer of know-how in the designated scientific area, making use of all available/eligible activities, including short term staff exchanges, onsite and virtual training, organizing events such as workshops and summer schools, supporting conference attendance and dissemination in open-access peer reviewed publications. These activities will be focused around the key UTBv personnel, including experiences professors and associate professors, as well as researchers, postdoctoral scientists and PhD students with little or no experience in the field of virtual heritage.

Given the high touristic potential of Brasov, UTBv’s initiative fits perfectly in the regional innovation strategy for economic growth and prosperity. eHERITAGE participants will collaborate with local authorities for exploiting and disseminating virtual applications in cultural heritage conservation. The measures foreseen in eHERITAGE project will influence the social, economic and cultural environment at regional level, in a multiplicative way, making room for strategic partnerships with other research institutes or with commercial agents.

eHERITAGE is measured by rigorous KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which are used to quantify the professional improvements. UTBv aims to leverage the body of knowledge and technology insight gained during the project, targeting publications in high-profile journals and in international conference proceedings, future R&D project proposals as well as enhancing the teaching material in specialized master programs.

eHERITAGE foresees a sustainable post-project development. After the completion of the eHERITAGE project, the continuous development of the defined field of study within UTBv will be sustained by the university, by the project partners through future partnerships and by the research staff which will continue to activate in the virtual cultural heritage area.