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Behind the scenes of AURORA: Avvale leads a Horizon project for the protection of artistic heritage

April 18, 2024 Avvale

In the increasingly dynamic landscape of technological innovation, organizations face the challenge of staying at the forefront, embracing the latest developments in the world of research and development.


Avvale, with its long history of commitment to providing cutting-edge solutions, strengthens its role as a pioneer in digital innovation. Horizon Europe, the largest research and innovation program of the European Union, presents itself as the ideal arena to collaborate with the best talents and brightest minds in Europe. Through participation in projects within Horizon Europe, Avvale commits not only to keeping up with the latest trends but also to driving change and actively contributing to the definition of the future technologies.

Let's discover with Domenico Romano the key details of one of these ambitious projects, its successes, and how Avvale is shaping the future through its dynamic participation in cutting-edge research projects.


💬  "Domenico, briefly introduce yourself."

"I’m an astrophysicist who met Avvale some time ago. Here, I follow and coordinate projects concerning the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning in multiple fields. Within the research activities, I dedicate myself to the coordination and design of European Horizon R&D projects."


💬  "We know that Avvale has been exploring the Horizon projects for a while, but recently there is something truly extraordinary on the horizon."

"Yes, you're talking about the AURORA. But let's take a step back, Avvale is not new to participating in European research projects. Unlike in the past, however, in AURORA, for the first time, Avvale has gathered an international network of partners, including universities, museums, and experts in the conservation of cultural assets, around its technological vision. In this context, Avvale assumes the role of coordinator of the entire research team, standing out due to its active participation in the research and development work within the project. A role that goes beyond mere coordination, highlighting Avvale's proactive and innovative approach in international collaborations.

With AURORA, a Research Innovation Action that will last 36 months, with a total budget of 3.4 million euros, the consortium involves 9 participants. This eclectic team extends to many other nations: Belgium, Ireland, France, Hungary, Ukraine, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. A fascinating melting pot of skills and perspectives that promises to catalyze a significant impact on the innovation landscape."


💬  "The use of blockchain in the art sector is not new: what is new in Aurora?"

"A part of the technology to be employed in AURORA is undoubtedly already known, but its combination in the context of cultural heritage presents itself as an authentic innovation.

The technological framework of AURORA is based on four fundamental pillars:

  • Newly conceived materials
  • Technology for advanced artwork analysis
  • Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence
  • Very Low-power tracking hardware and software for the artwork

What makes AURORA a unique project is not only the combination of these technologies but the innovative approach to their implementation. While blockchain is already used in contemporary art, AURORA tackles the challenge of applying these technologies to museum artworks, some of which date back hundreds of years. In this context, the disappearance of the authors and the need to minimize the technological impact on the historical object impose strict constraints. With its multidisciplinary approach to research, AURORA aims to democratize advanced technologies under study, making them accessible to both large cultural institutions and smaller entities. The ultimate goal is to develop an object authenticity verification process that is intuitive for cultural institutions but at the same time robust and reliable.

In a context where new artists register their works in a shared registry, artistic heritage is often excluded. AURORA aims to address this challenge with an innovative chemical marker, capable of authenticating artworks without altering them, registering them in a certified system. The main goal is to protect cultural heritage."




💬  "How do you do it concretely? What are the phases to face?"

"AURORA consists of three phases. Initially, an in-depth analysis of the current situation is conducted, identifying the most vulnerable objects and collecting information on the technological and conservation constraints. This phase provides a clear basis for technology development, outlining the properties of the artworks under study.

The next phase involves the development of technologies, a delicate step where the process of verifying the artwork is built, harmonizing the results obtained in the different AURORA technological pillars.

Finally, the third phase includes the composition and testing of the verification process on real objects, supervised by art conservators and security experts. In the initial analysis phase, the most "at-risk" artwork types are identified, while during the following stage many different technologies such as microelectronics, blockchain, and advanced objects characterization will be developed. Machine learning is employed to identify key parameters used in the verification process, which will be finally verified on museal artworks.

The information derived from the object will be used to create an association between it and its digital counterpart in the blockchain, creating a unique digital to physical link. The blockchain will store the information related to the artwork in an immutable and unalterable way, enabling the verification process. Simultaneously, the tracker will be able to provide information about the artwork’s position. Here further technological challenges arise from the need to reduce tracker size while extending its operative life at the same time."


💬  "Who are the Avvalers involved in this project?"

"Currently, the team is made up of professionals who embrace the figures of Solution Architect, Data Scientist, and experts in the field of IoT and blockchain. What’s essential is a multi-perspective approach that goes beyond pure technology. During the project, other figures will also be involved, where their knowledge and skills are necessary for the development activities."


💬  "When can we, therefore, hypothetically see it applied to artworks?"

"AURORA will continue for three years. The Kick-off meeting officially inaugurated the operational phase last January (2023) in Budapest, with the privilege of being hosted by the Hungarian National Museum. The latter, with its extraordinary collection spanning a vast temporal arc and offering a wealth of cultural testimonies, provided an ideal context for launching AURORA.

Looking to the future, by the end of 2025, we will present and test the AURORA solution on museal artworks, thus completing the cycle of our ambitious project. In perspective, the end of the project will be the first step in the realization of the technological vision embedded in AURORA."

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