How Google Glass could change the way we view art

Trial uses wearable computers to overlay information on paintings

It is a frustration familiar to anyone who has attended a blockbuster exhibition – the scrummages around the information cards that make it impossible to read about the paintings on show.

But the need for sharp elbows at art galleries could soon be a thing of the past thanks to Google Glass spectacles and pioneering research being carried out by British-based scientists .

A team from Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is investigating how Google’s new wearable computers can be used to display instant information on artworks as visitors walk round museums, possibly replacing gallery guidebooks and audio guides entirely.

The George Stubbs painting Cheetah and Stag with Two Indians at Manchester Art Gallery has been selected as a test subject, with visitors ranging from art students to senior citizens trying out the new technology.

The wearer uses the spectacles to take a picture of the painting. This is recognised by Google Glass, which provides them with the artwork information they would usually read on the wall. Audio information about Stubbs, the 17th century English artist best known for his paintings of horses, is also available for the wearer to select.

George Stubbs’s ‘Cheetah and Stag with Two Indians’, painted in 1765, is being used to test the service

A university spokeswoman said the early responses to the trial had been positive. “The testers were made up of a mix of art gallery goers who decided to take part on the day and techies who’d seen a call-out on Twitter. They were all ages, genders and occupations. After a bit of getting used to the Glass they all seemed to have fun with it and gave us some great feedback.”

The project was dreamed up following a visit from the California-based Google Glass software designer Cecilia Abadie, of 33 Lab Inc, who is working with the MMU team to develop the necessary software.

Read more: Google Glass on sale to 'anyone' in the US
'Google Glass helped me save a life' says doctor

Further testing for the Google Glass Augmented Reality Project will be carried out on six more paintings at the gallery later this month. The team hopes by then the glasses will also be able to provide suggestions and recommend similar works, for example other oil paintings of that period or other works by Stubbs. The wearer could then be guided to their location in the gallery.

Another potential use is sharing information within groups of visitors, so friends can recommend particular paintings to each other while in different rooms.

Dr Timothy Jung, from the university’s department of tourism management, believes the project could transform the museum experience.

“I think Google Glass is going to be huge in every industry. If you’re looking at a guidebook or even your phone, that creates a barrier between you and the art – it makes it harder for you to engage,” he said. “Using Glass in this way removes that barrier, you can engage directly with the artworks and have access to the background information. It will really enrich the experience.

“Wearables – whether that’s Google Glass, watches or even clothing – are going to be the future of tourism.”

Further plans for the project include testing the technology on sculptures and three-dimensional works. Dr Jung said: “Manchester was the home of the Industrial revolution, so it’s right that it could be a part of the digital revolution as well.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Web Design Apprentice

    £6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: .Net / SQL Developer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A skilled .NET developer with e...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer - PC/Mac

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company are cur...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee