The Anderson Collection at Stanford University is being augmented thanks to a collaboration of the university, global creative services firm Sid Lee, and augmented reality (AR) specialists Merchlar. A beta version of an iPad application uses computer vision and augmented reality to recognize artwork and multimedia content.
The application lets visitors follow their own interests (and route through the museum) and then share what they learn via social media. The hope is that the use of AR technology will increase the appeal of museums to a younger, tech-driven audience, while bringing multiple generations together to explore art and cultural history.
Hoping to extend beyond Stanford, the group is talking with additional partners in North America and Europe to create a platform that lets curators at any museum create their own AR-enabled museum experiences. The application can give curators an unprecedented look into, and control over, the museum experience. By better understanding what visitors like and how they move through the museum, curators can continually redesign the experience. They can create guided tours on the fly and evolve based on instinct and data.
Museums and galleries have a wealth of additional assets in their archives that provide context, value and often the missing back story to a piece and its artist. The application surfaces this content through a digital window that not only enriches the traditional visitor experience but also provides a lens familiar to the digital generation. The goal of the application is not to replace the traditional experience but to enhance and unify generations around stories told by the institutions.
— Kevin Sutherland, Sid Lee Labs’ Managing Director
The existing beta version of the application relies primarily on video, audio, photography, and text to reveal the story behind artwork in the museum. Future versions will potentially include 3D scans, binaural audio, spherical photos, full-spectrum image analysis, etc.