Virtual Equivalents of Real Objects (VEROs): A proposal for a new type of museum collectible

Samuel Bolton, The Ohio State University, USA, Joe Cora, The Ohio State University, USA

Computer-rendered three-dimensional models provide a range of beneficial roles to museums. Massively multiuser online virtual worlds, created for entertainment and social networking, might provide an additional and complementary way for museums to use of 3D models. Currently, virtual-world goods make poor collectibles because they can be replicated many times by a service provider. This issue would be solved by Virtual Equivalents of Real Objects (VEROs), which would be created using 3D scans of rare or unique objects in the real world. In any VERO-supported software application, a VERO would exist as the single representative of a uniquely identified real object; they could not, by definition, be duplicated within a virtual-world setting. In this way, real-world collectability would be translated to virtual-world collectability.

VEROs are abstract entities that should not be confused with their 3D-model associates. A museums consortium could establish a service exchange for VERO assignment and transactions. The service exchange, which would operate under the auspices of the museums consortium, would also function to assure the authenticity of VEROs. VEROs would be sold to recover some or all of the expenses of 3D-model production. Recent technological advances are now enabling the mass production of 3D-model representations of real objects. Furthermore, large numbers of 3D models have already been generated from museums for the purpose of research and promoting collections. It would therefore not be difficult to populate the service exchange with models suitable for VEROs.

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