BBC launches spectacular 'Civilisations AR' app

It’s a stunning app that turns your living room into a museum...
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BBC launches spectacular 'Civilisations AR' app

The Beeb’s first augmented reality app is a work of art

The BBC is launching its first augmented reality app, Civilisations AR. This will be a companion piece to Civilisations, the upcoming BBC Two documentary series that tells the story of art from the dawn of time. Presented by historical heavyweights Simon Schama and Mary Beard, it’s going to be a biggie.

The Civilisations AR app will coincide with the show’s broadcast, and it’ll let you use your smartphone to examine museum exhibits as if they were right in front of you. So if you’d like to see how an Egyptian mummy looks in your living room, here are a few more details…

What can Civilisations AR do?

With Civilisations AR, you’ll be able to explore 30 to 40 objects that are currently on display in museums and collections around the UK. Each artefact has been meticulously 3D scanned, so you’ll be able to see it through your phone, fully life-sized. Some popular and famous pieces will be available, including an ancient Egyptian mummy from the Torquay Museum, Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ from the National Museum of Wales, and ‘The Umbrian Madonna and Child’ from the National Museum of Scotland.

The app will have some unique features to help you discover more about the artefact you’re looking at. For example, you’ll be able to use an ‘x-ray’ to see through certain objects – use it on the Egyptian mummy sarcophagus, and you’ll get a view of the fully scanned mummy inside too. There’s also a ‘magic spotlight’ that reveals additional notes, audio snippets and images.

How was Civilisations AR made?

The BBC collaborated with 30 museums across the UK to create Civilisations AR, with its Research and Development team travelling far and wide to 3D scan artefacts for the app. The exciting news for augmented reality fans is that the software behind Civilisations AR has been designed to be used on other applications - so don’t be surprised to see similar apps accompanying major BBC documentaries in the future.

When can I get Civilisations AR?

You’ll be able to download Civilisations AR when the BBC Two documentary starts in March. The app will be free on iOS and Android, and it’ll be updated with new objects after each new episode is broadcast.

Are you looking forward to seeing Civilisations AR in action? What other shows would you like to see an AR app for? Post a comment below to share your thoughts.

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