As still uncharted territory, the words enhanced, augmented, and VR might still sound foreign. They belong more to the world of science fiction than the one we inhabit. The truth, however, is that augmented reality is rapidly becoming a popular phenomenon in gaming and entertainment, but also in the arts.
In a recent app build for one our clients, we added beacons and image recognition services to their app so that if their patrons point the device to the pictures of any of the artists, they can hear them play. If they wanted to find the concession stand, the app would direct them to the nearest station. It would tell them specials they could find, whether at the concession booth or at the gift shop.
Enhanced and Augmented reality make use of the real-world environment by overlaying new information on top of it via a device. Apps use a smartphone’s GPS, beacons, and compass to pinpoint a user’s location in space and the device’s orientation. If you’ve ever played Pokemon Go, think of that.
Virtual Reality, through its use of goggles or full mask, usually replaces the space your in with a wholly new image. It creates full immersion, such as swimming with dolphins or sitting in a concert hall.
Matt Sainsbury, a popular digital art critic, and author, argues that augmented reality is the norm and this transformation can only be for the better. Imagine being completely immersed in your next concert, and learning about the musicians in the symphony as they take the stage. Think of a ballet, and how the original set pieces can be changed with digital technology.
Even though enhanced and augmented realities are not currently integral parts of a performance, it already has its place in museums and some of the larger art organizations.
Museums have had good responses by using this technology in their exhibits. An enhanced reality component is particularly attractive for museum visitors, whether as part of guided tours by getting a nearly first-hand experience of the sights. The Chicago History Museum did something similar by introducing the Chicago 00 The Eastland Disaster app which showed users a gallery of images as they walked along the Chicago river. The Seattle Art Museum also utilized an AR app for their the Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic exhibition. Enhanced reality has reached as far as the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece where it brought ancient architectural remains to life by filling in lost features and restoring the once-vivid colors.
One thing is certain – enhanced and augmented realities are here to stay and these can only provide us with a richer, fuller and more satisfying experience, whether it comes to museum tours, theater performances or performing art in general.