Bring on museum companion apps — but only if they’re absolutely awesome

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On a weekday afternoon in the Greek and Roman sculpture hall at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was, to my surprise, the only visitor on my phone. 

The long gallery was fairly empty, but it was oddly devoid of the usual selfie-takers and Instagram story posters. I, on the other hand, had my phone out because I was attempting to use an app called Smartify to scan "Marble statue of a kouros (youth)," in order to learn more about the sculpture. It wasn't going well. 

Smartify is one of a handful of apps that allow museum-goers to use computer vision to scan works of art, bringing up supporting media and information. The Google Arts & Culture app also purports to have a version of this technology (although Google couldn't tell me which museums offer the functionality). Other apps from organizations like the Guggenheim use Bluetooth to serve museum visitors information about artwork. And recently, the global design firm R/GA unveiled the "BG Selects" app for its guest exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. The R/GA app not only scans art, but also provides a synced audio experience for video, based on sub-audible sound wave recognition. Read more...

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