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Software that can be used to play almost any computer game in history is to be developed as part of a European attempt to preserve digital cultural heritage.
The European Union has funded a €4.02 million (£3.6m, $5.2m) project dubbed KEEP, for Keeping Emulation Environments Portable, which will develop new ways to archive digital objects endangered by the relentless march of technology. As well as games, it will work to ensure that other kinds of files and software remain accessible long after the demise of the hardware and software for which they were originally intended.
Emulation involves creating a software package that replicates the functionality of a previous hardware platform, storage medium or operating system, making it possible to use old software on modern hardware. But existing emulators are usually specialised and themselves prone to becoming outdated. KEEP is intended to be the "first general purpose emulator", designed to be migrated easily to new computing platforms.
More here New software would play any videogame ever created - tech - 12 February 2009 - New Scientist
KEEP (Keeping Emulation Environments Portable) will develop an Emulation Access Platform to enable accurate rendering of both static and dynamic digital objects: text, sound, and image files; multimedia documents, websites, databases, videogames etc. The overall aim of the project is to facilitate universal access to our cultural heritage by developing flexible tools for accessing and storing a wide range of digital objects.
The very success of computing technology, where machines are rapidly superseded, has created a serious and growing challenge of how to preserve access to digital material produced on obsolete machines. Cultural heritage organisations are particularly sensitive to the threat of major data loss resulting from technical obsolescence. KEEP will develop an Emulation Access Platform to enable the accurate rendering of these objects, designed for a wide variety of computer systems, so that they can be securely accessed in the long term.
KEEP will address the problems of transferring digital objects stored on outdated computer media such as floppy discs onto current storage devices. This will involve the specification of file formats and the production of transfer tools exploited within a framework, and taking into account possible legal and technical issues. KEEP will address all aspects ranging from safeguarding the original bits from the carrier to offering online services to end-users via a highly portable emulation framework running on any possible device. In addition to producing a software package, the project will deliver understanding about how to integrate emulation-based solutions with an operational electronic deposit system. Existing metadata models will be researched and guidelines will be developed for mapping digital objects to emulated manifestations. Overall, KEEP will create the foundation for the next generation of permanent access strategies based on emulation.
Although primarily aimed at those involved in Cultural Heritage, such as memory institutions and games museums, the Emulation Access Platform can also serve the needs of a wide range of organisations and individuals because of its universal approach.
Project Acronym: KEEP
Project Reference: 231954
Start Date: 2009-02-01
Duration: 36 months
Project Cost: 4.02 million euro
Contract Type: Collaborative project (generic)
End Date: 2012-01-31
Project Status: Execution
Project Funding: 3.15 million euro
Emulation, what will they think of next.
UPDATE: adding some more info. The possibilities of this project are quite intriguing.