Augmented Reality technology is believed to have the ability to rescue dying museums by opening new possibilities for activists and art enthusiasts eager to have a part in shaping the museum-going experience.
Museums are often perceived as dusty cabinets full off dead and ancient things, especially those institutions you’ve never heard off. You know the ones – the neglected pride of county towns that could play a vital cultural and social role but struggle for funding.
These national treasures, however, are not destined to perish – far from it.
In order to breathe a new life into museums, the cultural sector is taking major leaps towards embracing new technology, which is coming as a great benefit to those of us who enjoy travelling and learning about the cultural world around us.
See it for yourself:
England’s Historic Cities, England
Outside the walled museum scene, a new app called England’s Historic Cities uses augmented reality for tourists to interact with heritage sites across the country.
There are 12 in total spread across England, from Durham Cathedral and Hadrian’s Wall in the north to the Roman Baths and Salisbury Cathedral in the south. At each location, famous historical figures serve as your virtual guides and information are superimposed on walls and over artefacts.
For example, at Chester’s Roman Amphitheatre, centurion Marcus Aurelius Nepos tells about England’s bloody combat history at the spot.
And at Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare leads visitors through a behind-the-scenes history of his life in his family home.
The Museum of Celtic Heritage
The Museum of Celtic Heritage is located in Salzburg and is considered as one of the largest European museums of Celtic history.
They decided to go for a rather creative way of educating – you can use the Speaking Celt AR app if you want to be guided by an animated 3D model of a walking and talking ancient Celt.
This “museum guard” can tell you a lot of interesting facts about the exhibits and Celtic history in general.
Not to mention the appearance of our own Magic Mirror at the London Science Museum earlier this year!
So, why now?
If Augmented Reality has been around for years, why did the cultural sector only began experimenting with the technology only recently?
The recent investment in AR by major tech platforms has yielded a never-before seen level of quality, stability, and ultimately, user experience. Recent developments around Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, have made it faster and easier for app developers to roll out new experiences including on-device image recognition without a costly license or heavy SDKs of a 3rd party.
Going the free, open-source route meant burning time and resources with libraries like OpenCV or working with pHash methods.
The introduction of this support in ARKit 1.5 was a killer add-on.
Augmented reality holds an abundance of untapped potential for museums and attractions, it may be hard to imagine what comes next, but our bet is that augmented reality will become the digital magnifying glass for the physical world, and assailant in the death of the traditional guided tour, audio guide, or wall label.