Are museums the best place to find innovation in AR?

Are museums the best place to find innovation in AR?

If we think of the world as a book, then augmented reality is the digital magnifying glass that enables us to explore the details behind every word, letter, and punctuation mark — right down to the granular texture of the page itself. AR layers context onto an interface that you can see and understand. It blends two different realms, the real, physical world you see with your eyes and the world you see on your device in an interface that creates a new layer that’s as familiar as the phone in your hand.

When married to image recognition and machine vision, AR opens a whole new dimension of possibilities. Museums specifically are pushing the envelope with AR and showcasing the technology’s potential through creative implementation. They’re using AR for everything from wayfinding to bringing objects to life to developing entirely new, digital artworks. When you layer contextual information on top of objects, products, or places, you end up with a seamless, magical experience and the cultural sector is proving the limitless possibilities. Let’s take a look.

Journeys into the world of AR

Mobile, location-aware technologies, and machine vision – these are a few things I’m obsessed with. And then came AR. Last year, my team ramped up our exploration into AR with Apple’s ARKit and a close partnership with Pérez Art Museum Miami [which featured in Museum’s + Heritage Advisor’s feature Technology in Museums – introducing new ways to see the cultural world] generously supported by the Knight Foundation. Through our joint efforts, the first museum exhibition to use ARKit was born.

I’m incredibly excited about the potential that technology such as AR unleashes in production of culture, but it goes without saying, that we’re fundamentally interested in how it can be used to elevate the existing visual culture around us. For this, the melding of AR and machine vision was a clear and obvious opportunity.

In the words of Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz: “We’re going from computers with cameras that take photos, to computers with eyes that can see.” And I’m excited about a world where those eyes bring knowledge, stories, and meaning to the culture around you.


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