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Augmented Reality Apps for Avid Art Collectors

We developed an Augmented Reality app for London Art Gallery, Zebra One based in Hampstead. The gallery is well known throughout London’s contemporary art scene offering a range of artwork available for purchase online. They asked us to use our Flutter App Development skills to investigate how their customers could virtually try art in their homes, which lead us to develop their Augmented Reality (AR) App.

Problem

In essence Zebra One Art Gallery wanted to explore ways to engage with and grow their existing art collector audience utilising Augmented Reality, to provide them with a tool enabling them to view contemporary art in their own homes. This allows them to see the scale of the artwork as well as to identify colour fit with existing wall colours and accent furnishings. The brief was to provide a simple to use app available on iOS, Android and tablet devices. Selection of Art Gallery pieces from their shop had to be simple and quick. They wanted to be able to view the artwork from all angles as you would in their London art gallery. They wanted to be able to see it from various seating position in living and dinning spaces as well as lying down in bedrooms.

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Solution

In truth we were keen to develop an augmented reality app using Flutter’s ARCore platform. Augmented reality adds an element of excitement to software development that goes beyond the normal day to day data processing jobs. We are seeing more and more Augmented Reality implementations with virtual try on of glasses, footwear and clothing. Developing an Augmented Reality solution for Zebra One Art Gallery was an opportunity too good to miss, and one which could directly benefit consumers from the UK’s 1,500 commercial art galleries.

The app was developed in Flutter using ARCore which is a Google product that they describe in their own words here:

ARCore is Google’s platform for building augmented reality experiences. Using different APIs, ARCore enables your phone to sense its environment, understand the world and interact with information. Some of the APIs are available across Android and iOS to enable shared AR experiences. ARCore uses three key capabilities to integrate virtual content with the real world as seen through your phone's camera: Motion tracking allows the phone to understand and track its position relative to the world. Environmental understanding allows the phone to detect the size and location of all type of surfaces: horizontal, vertical and angled surfaces like the ground, a coffee table or walls. Light estimation allows the phone to estimate the environment's current lighting conditions. https:// developers.google.com/ar/discover

There are many applications for Augmented Reality which can be applied to any situation where a customer may be unclear as the the size and colour of a major purchase such as a sofa, kitchen appliances, bathroom furniture to name a few.

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Results

Developing the Augmented Reality Art Gallery app for Zebra One made us question how we ever got by without it, as for almost all of us who don’t employ the services of an interior designer, we flirt with disaster every time we shop. Although we may have measured and measured again or brought swatches to be sure - how could we ever be really sure until the moment our purchase arrives in our home? I remember making a terrible mistake myself some years back when furnishing our home. I’d chosen a couple of pictures for a feature wall which looked stunning in the shop, but made my living room look like a Chinese restaurant when I got them home.

The Zebra One Augmented reality app certainly overcomes this kind of mistake enabling art collectors to be confident in their choices. It achieved that easily and yet it offers far more as we found through development and testing. With no real depth of art knowledge we found ourselves trying Hockney, Chagall and Warhol on the walls of our office and home. We were impressed with the Warhol Channel poster collection and surprised to see how affordable they are. We’re not saying this because we’re on commission as we’re not, but through the app we have developed a really appreciation of artworks that we wouldn’t normally expect to engage with.

A key element of the app which helps to grow the London Galleries audience is its ability to deliver ‘User Generated Content - UGC’. Art collectors can take a photo and share it to social media to canvas the opinion of friends and family. This is key as it enables the app to spread virally with art collectors marketing Zebra One each time they share a post.

User Generated Content is seen as a more authentic communication than that given from a brand. Stats show that customers are far more likely to trust the opinion of a friend above that of a brand.

For Zebra One Gallery, their augmented reality journey is just beginning as they plan to develop the app further including AI components to advise collectors as they try various works of art in their homes.

If this article has sparked ideas for your own augmented reality app, let’s schedule a 15 minute call. We’re here to help.