Starting on January 25, the Detroit Institute of Arts will be featuring a new tour called Lumin that will allow guests to see several of the exhibits in a brand new way. In partnership with Google and GuidiGO, the new tour will utilize Tango technology on the new Lenovo Phab 2 Pro that features Tango and the AR Composer, a platform developed by GuidiGO. Together, they enable an augmented reality experience that provides more context and depth to the various exhibits. I was lucky enough to attend the media preview and experience the tour myself and it really does provide a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
Before we get to the tour itself though, it’s important to understand how the technology works so you can truly grasp how the DIA is using it as well as how it might be used in years to come. At the foundation, the experience is driven using Google Tango technology. Formerly known as Project Tango, the technology uses several sensors to track the the device’s real time position and orientation in a given environment. This ability to map the 3D world in real time allows for a variety of applications such as indoor mapping, augmented reality and virtual reality experiences and the ability to measure physical items in the real world.
That’s where GuidiGO comes in. GuidiGO is a third party app developer established back in 2012 dedicated to creating new immersive learning experiences. Specifically, it’s their AR platform known as AR Composer which the DIA was able to harness to bring a whole new level of interactivity to the museum experience. Using input from the DIA, GuidiGO creates the AR experiences the guests will then see as they take the Lumin tour.
For instance, one of the exhibits features a section of the wall from the Ishtar Gate. When visitors using the Lumin tour app are near the exhibit, they will be able to pull up a to scale digital recreation of the Ishtar Gate. Now, it’s important to note that this isn’t just some static picture that you view on the device. The AR experience lets you essentially walk around and through the Ishtar Gate giving users a completely different experience than what was previously available. You can check it out right here.
Each stop on the tour features a different AR experience, some exhibits feature animations while others offer photographs or overlays that have points of interest on them that provide more information about that particular exhibit. It’s easy to see how these various AR experiences can help enrich the exhibits and offer a more in-depth educational experience.
A great instance of this is the tour stop featuring an ancient water filtration system. The Lumin AR experience built around this stop features an animation that will show you how the exhibit would’ve once functioned thousands of years ago. DIA digital experience designer Andrea Montiel de Shuman noted that previously the exhibit was often passed by visitors not knowing what it was and that with Lumin they are able to provide that missing context in a fun way allowing them to now highlight that piece.
On the flip side, Lumin also gives the DIA the ability to let guests see the innards of one of their most popular exhibits, their mummy. On the Lumin tour guests will be able to see an x-ray overlay of the skeleton entombed within the golden sarcophagus.
In addition to all of the various experiences to be had on the Lumin tour, the app also provides easy to use way finding that will help you navigate the museum. The device will show a blue dotted line on the screen that will lead you to your chosen destination. Think of it as an indoor version of Google Maps, it even has the same aesthetic making it extremely easy to use. Really, on the whole, the Lumin app is very intuitive and guests should be able to navigate the prompts with little to no direction.
The Lumin tour is free of charge and will open to the public later this month on January 25, and will feature 7 tour stops at launch with more to be added later. The museum has plenty of Tango-enabled devices on hand for your use, but anyone in with a Tango-enabled device of their own will be able to use their own.
On the whole, the technology definitely allows for a new and unique learning experience, and it’s great to see the DIA be the first art museum of its kind to implement a multimedia tour like this. Not only does it highlight specific pieces in the DIA, but it’s a big step for Google and GuidiGO as well with the Lumin tour will showing off just a bit of what’s possible with Google Tango.
Tango is quickly positioning itself to be the next big thing and will likely impact how we go about our daily lives. Whether it’s through the use of indoor wayfinding to navigate a crowded museum or mall, or the ability to create a 3D digital replica of a piece of furniture to see how it might look in your living room, the possible applications using the technology are endless.
Images: Detroit Institute of Arts