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Capturing the Intangible: An Introduction to the i-Treasures Project

Cultural expression is not limited to architecture, monuments or collections of artifacts. It also includes fragile intangible live expressions, which involve knowledge and skills such as music, dance, singing, theatre, human skills and craftsmanship. These manifestations of human intelligence and creativeness constitute our Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), a basic factor of local cultural identity and a guaranty for sustainable development. In this paper, we briefly introduce the i-Treasures research project, which aims at developing an open and extendable platform to provide access to ICH resources, enable knowledge exchange and contribute to the transmission of rare know-how. The project goes beyond digitization of cultural content; it creates new knowledge that has never been analysed or studied before through novel methodologies for the analysis and modelling of ICH based on multisensory technology. High-level semantics are extracted enabling researchers to identify possible implicit or hidden correlations between different ICH expressions or interpretation styles and study the evolution of a specific ICH. Four different ICH cases are studied: traditional songs, dance interactions, pottery and contemporary music composition Combining conventional learning procedures and sensorimotor learning through an interactive 3D environment, i-Treasures breaks new ground in education and knowledge transfer of ICH.