Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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Google is helping bring augmented reality to museums

Google is helping bring augmented reality to museums

Ah, it feels just like yesterday. It was the summer of 2016. The sun was beaming, the birds chirping, and people were getting in trouble for playing Pokémon Go within the Holocaust Museum. Last summer, Pokémon Go brought the pesky pocket beasts from our childhood into the real world through augmented reality: which made us perpetually tethered to our phones for a fleeting month or so (or beyond, if you didn’t fall off the trend). Despite the controversy (i.e.: folks decrying that they gotta catch ‘em all even while visiting the Holocaust Museum) Google’s bringing AR back to museums from the screens of Lenovo Phab 2 Pro smartphones. Only this time: it serves an educational purpose.

serves an educational purpose

Premiering at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), Lumin is a new AR-embodied mobile tour application for museums, utilizing the advanced AR and location capabilities of Google Tango. Lumin’s a joint effort between Google, GuidiGo, and the DIA, which built the app. But instead of mindless Pokémon-catching entertainment, Lumin’s sights are set on something greater: enriching the education visitors already get from museums, and encouraging them to engage actively with the exhibits they see.

Lumin strings visitors along a full-fledged mobile tour, only with AR attached. Visiting an exhibit on Ancient Egypt is now bedazzled with an AR x-ray that visitors can scan over a sarcophagus, to see the full-body of the skeleton that once lay within. At the Ancient Babylonia section of the DIA, visitors can use Tango’s AR to view the Ishtar Gate at full-scale, beyond the small mosaic sliver of the once six-story gate. Exhibits all across the DIA have new AR-enabled interactions to explore.

The use of AR will vary per exhibit.

“The name of the project is derived from the Latin word for light (lumen),” writes the DIA in a press release. “This refers to the moment of illumination—the spark and magic—that occurs when people have an enlightening experience with a work of art.” Google hopes that Lumin is just the start of Tango-driven applications and mobile tours being implemented into other museums across the world.

Starting on January 25th, Lenovo Phab 2 Pro users can follow along the mobile tour in Lumin at the Detroit Institute of Arts, located in Detroit, Michigan. Images courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts.

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