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Up Close: Former BYU Student Brings Ancient History To Life With ‘Talking Art’

Oct 23, 2019, 8:37 PM | Updated: Oct 24, 2019, 10:45 am

AUCKLAND, New ZealandA former Brigham Young University student is putting high-tech into the world of ancient history by mixing a little magic, art, culture and technology.

The creation may seem like something out of “Harry Potter” — where the artwork comes alive and talks to people.

But that’s exactly what Jesse Armstrong is creating with his storytelling tech company Vaka Interactive.

Armstrong said that it’s all about bringing stories to life through the talking artwork.

His goal is to bring new life to museums who are wanting people to linger longer.

“We develop storytelling technology for museums, art galleries and others to bring stories to life to truly awaken the power of a story,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong and his team got the idea after sitting at a museum observing people for hours.

“We realized very quickly because there was a lack of storytelling in that space to connect people with an understanding of what they were looking at,” he said.

Jesse is a former BYU student who dropped out of college to pursue his dream in his hometown of Auckland, New Zealand. KSL’s Dan Rascon caught up with him during his trip to the South Pacific Islands covering President Russel M. Nelson’s ministry tour with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I love it. Every single day I wake up and it’s the first thing I think about,” Armstrong said about his tech company.

The process is not an easy one — in fact, it is years in the making. The team can either bring to live a historical figure on canvas or put a living person on the screen.

“For example, if we use a person living today we can bring them in, scan them in 3D and effectively use software to make that 3D model of them look like a painted figure and bring that figure to life and make them talk,” Armstrong said.

The other idea they are working on is to have a virtual tour guide which would have the person jump from portrait to portrait, following visitors to talk to them about what they are seeing.

Armstrong’s ultimate dream is to one day get the portrait to have a two-way conversation with people. Right now he’s working with several prestigious museums in his country to get his business up and running.

“My team and I, we are totally sold on what we are doing,” he said.

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Up Close: Former BYU Student Brings Ancient History To Life With ‘Talking Art’