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.”

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

    £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

    Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

    £60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

    Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

    competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

    Graduate / Junior C# Developer

    £18000 - £25000 Per Annum + bonus and benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits