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BBC launches its first-ever AR app for its Civilisations series

Tyrone Stewart

BBC Civilisations ARThe BBC is launching its first augmented reality app to accompany the launch of its new arts and culture series, Civilisations.

Civilisations AR, which has been developed BBC Research & Development and Nexus Studios, will enable people to explore exhibits from the more than 30 UK museums that are collaborating with the BBC on the series.

Virtual exhibits featured in the app include the ancient Egyptian mummy from Torquay Museum, Rodin’s The Kiss from the National Museum of Wales, The Umbrian Madonna and Child from the National Museum of Scotland, and more.

“The work we’ve done with these organisations will enable fans of the series new ways to engage with art and cultural artefacts from across the country,” said Eleni Sharp, executive product manager for BBC R&D. “The BBC’s first ever AR app is a great example of this, offering users the ability to explore a personal, virtual exhibition of fascinating pieces whenever and wherever they want.”

While viewing the exhibit, users will be provided with annotations, audio, and imagery offering information about what they are viewing through the ‘magic spotlight’ feature. Other features include ‘X-ray’, which enables users to see through or inside objects; ‘Restoration’, enabling the user to ‘rub through the layers of history’; and ‘Navigation’, letting users browse the exhibition by geography via an AR globe or the themes of the series.

BBC R&D has also built a tool to enable museums, galleries, and libraries to produce live broadcasts of talks, panel discussions, and Q&As in broadcast quality, while also building a tool to enable them to engage communities and audiences by making them contributors. In addition, the BBC has made a 360 video tool available to cultural organisations, enabling them to create immersive experiences called ‘360 collections’ in the BBC Taster VR app. There’s also a visual storytelling tool to tell the story behind artefacts seen in Civilisations.