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See S'pore history with Google Glass

RECORDING: Mr Chen recording the textile conservation process using Google Glass at the Heritage Conservation Centre.


    May 16, 2014

    See S'pore history with Google Glass

    HISTORY buffs can now crawl through the Marsiling Tunnels, used by the Japanese during World War II, from the comfort of their computer screen.

    The National Heritage Board (NHB) has obtained access to the Google Glass prototype - a lightweight eyewear computer which lets wearers film what they see.

    NHB researcher John Kwok, 36, wore the glasses as he clambered through the narrow entrance to the 72-year-old tunnels and filmed a six-minute video which was uploaded to the board's YouTube channel on Wednesday.

    It is the first in a series of nine NHB videos to be filmed using Google Glass technology.

    NHB is the first public sector agency here to gain access to the prototype, which it can borrow from Google Singapore as and when it needs to.

    The board's group director of policy, Alvin Tan, said there are plans to film videos of the Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter and artefacts from the National Collection housed in the Heritage Conservation Centre in Jurong.

    The technology will also allow the board to take the public through conservation processes - like the various steps involved in removing creases from delicate textiles dating back to the 19th century.

    The aim is to take members of the public behind the scenes and give them access to sites, artefacts and processes through the eyes of curators and conservators.

    Unlike a regular camera, Google Glass allows the user to call an expert, search and recall information from the Internet and share photos and videos instantaneously.

    Mr Tan hopes it will "bring the heritage experience to anyone who has Internet access".

    Google Glass was launched in the United States last month and despite its S$1,900 price tag, stores sold out within a day.

    It is available only in the US although it can be purchased online by anyone.

    Dr Kwok said the eyewear worked well in harsh environments: "It freed up my hands to hold onto a torch, grab onto a rope and run my fingers across the tunnel's walls."

    Completed in February 1942, the tunnels were originally designed as a British Royal Air Force fuel reserve depot, but the facility was captured and modified by the Japanese shortly after.

    It had a capacity of more than 4.5 million litres and could supply fuel to more than 4,000 Japanese fighter planes.

    Assistant conservator Chuance Chen, 31, who works in the textile department at the Heritage Conservation Centre, said the technology will help him to share his expertise with recruits.