The BBC continues to move into immersive and interactive online territory with the launch of its first augmented reality app, Civilisations AR.
Developed by BBC Research & Development, BBC Arts and Nexus Studios, the app features over 30 fascinating artefacts from museums across the UK that have been digitally scanned and are now available to view in 3D as part of a new virtual exhibition. The app’s launch accompanies the beginning of new landmark arts and culture series, Civilisations, which begins on BBC Two tonight, following which the full series will be available to view on BBC iPlayer.
The series follows presenters Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga as they travel far and wide across six continents to find answers to fundamental questions about human creativity.
The app features a range of exhibits, including a 14th century Italian sculpture of Madonna and Child from the National Museum of Scotland; Turner’s painting Bridge Over The Moselle, from the Oldham Museum and Art Gallery; an ancient Egyptian mummy from the Torquay Museum; and the Rosetta Stone from the British Museum. It highlights the treasures of a diverse range of UK museums and galleries and allows people across the globe to discover these remarkable objects and explore them ‘out of the display case’, no matter where they may live.
At the heart of the Civilisations AR experience is a core ‘magic spotlight’ feature, which allows users to uncover annotations, audio and imagery that enrich to the story of each exhibit. An X-ray function lets users see through or inside an object, while a restoration feature can be used to rub through the layers of history. Users can browse the exhibition geographically, using an AR globe, or via the themes of the series, as new exhibits will be added as the series progresses.
Eleni Sharp, executive product manager for BBC R&D, says: “We’re thrilled to have started our augmented reality journey with Civilisations AR. The app enables users to explore an amazing range of exhibits, while enabling the BBC R&D team to experiment with a new technology and test how a new format can complement a linear show. However, this is just the first outing for the app. We’ve designed and built it to be a totally reusable product, and we will be looking to use develop more AR projects in the future once we have had the chance to analyse the data from this one.”
Civilisations AR.was developed as part of a major collaboration between the BBC and more than 30 museums and galleries as part of the Civilisations Festival. It is available to download for free for iOS and Android now.