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Shazam the Art World

Friday 13th November 2015

Smartphones are here to save us from ignorance. Not just so that you can win that argument at the pub about how large salmon can grow, but for more seriously intellectual queries as well. Music lovers frustrated by overhearing a song but not knowing it have long relied on the popular application 'Shazam' (among others) which uses the smartphone microphone to 'listen' to the music being played and match it against a database, providing artist and track information alongside a handy purchase link. At long last the visual art world will be entering the same modern age thanks to a new application known as 'Artbit'.

The brainchild of an Israeli app development company of the same name, Artbit hopes to revolutionize the way people interact with art by taking advantage of something that is known as 'augmented reality'. Think along the lines of the audio recordings you can get for major museum tours, but completely based on your smartphone and being constantly updated. Information from the real world is analyzed and augmented with an off-site database of additional information. In the case of Artbit, users simply snap a photo of the piece in question using the camera in their mobile phone, and Artbit takes the photo and matches it against a database of artwork.

Ofer Atir, the CEO of Artbit, explained his hopes and dreams for the app to Haaretz: “I believe people want to be consumers of art, but that it seems like a scary, inaccessible world to them. We want to take the reasonable person and tell him that art is an amazing thing. We also want to connect those who haven’t got a clue about art but who up to now haven’t felt comfortable asking so they don’t appear ignorant. Instead of asking who painted something, he takes a photograph of it and the app provides a layered reality for it. The database of art is due to fill out with the help of users who take photos and ask for explanations about it, which the company’s staff will locate and provide.”

That last point is one of the most crucial, however. Any augmented reality app is only as good as the database it draws on, so adoption might be a bit slower than he hopes. The addition of a Wikipedia-style database that other users can add to should dramatically speed up the rate at which the apps useful increases, but early adoption is always crucial for the success of these types of apps. Here's hoping they make a go of it, there's nothing more frustrating than seeing a stunning piece of work and not being able to learn more about it!
 

Posted on November 13th 2015 on 08:11pm
Labels: app, art, smartphone

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