Disney’s ‘AR Museum’ Brings Interactive Play to Classic Art and Beyond

AR Museum lets you create your own masterpiece with augmented reality.

Back in 2015, Disney developed AR technology that could bring coloring books to life through live texturing, the process of capturing a 2D drawing to create a 3D augmented-reality image in real-time. Since then, Disney has evolved their live texturing technology into a new AR application called AR Museum, which allows for a non-intrusive interactive and personalized museum experience.

How? By giving you the ability to scan any piece of 2D art from a museum or book using a mobile device, and then alter the colors and tones of the artwork in real-time.

For example, you could change the Mona Lisa by giving the iconic subject purple skin. Or perhaps you’d relate more with Van Gogh’s Starry Night, if it had less blues and more greens—all with the tap of a finger.

AR Museum, which was built with the Unity 5.5 game engine and using Vuforia 6.2.6 for image-marking tracking, basically turns any image into a coloring book.

Though Disney hasn’t outright claimed it, with AR Museum’s interactive capabilities, the app could breathe new life into old media such as the millions of Disney books sitting on shelves all around the world. Disney fans could visually reimagine each piece of artwork from their favorite books in the same way you’d interact and personalize museum artwork.

The ability to manipulate artwork seems like a coo ildea, but it does prompt an important question: what does the artist think about giving anyone the ability to reimagine their own hard work? I spoke with Philip Pascuzzo, an artist who has designed multiple book covers—his most famous work is the Twitter logo—about the idea of giving up control of an image he created.

“I really want the viewer to have an emotional response to art and concept, and I believe this emotional response could be amplified,” Pascuzzo said. “Adding the interactive element to that experience would be amazing.”

Imagine how companies could leverage something like AR Museum to enhance the way you experience marketing and branding.

“The first time I saw my logo animated in a commercial, it blew me away,” said Pascuzzo. “I work in a very flat, two-dimensional world, so seeing my mark (logo) becoming an interactive graphic would feel like magic.”

Disney’s AR Museum isn’t currently available for any public platform, but this reviewer is hoping Disney has plans for this technology to go beyond museum visits and bringing old books to life.  Visual artwork is a huge part of Disney’s marketing strategy, and the company is not hiding their embrace of mixed reality. Their recent announcement to bring Star Wars VR experiences to Downtown Disney and Disney Springs is just one of many pieces of evidence, revealing a company is committed to give you something much more immersive with your Disney experience on every level.

After all, a Disney park is everything from an amusement park to an interactive museum. Think about how AR Museum could create excitement for any visitor by using the entire park as a virtual canvas to discover hidden interactive AR easter eggs.

“It’s that discovery that heightens the interaction,” said Pascuzzo. “I imagine an even bigger feeling if viewers could interact with the artwork in a catered and personal way.”

AR Museum looks like a very cool tool to bring a new interactive experience to museums, and hopefully Disney will push the utility of this app toward more of their properties. After all, I myself am curious about what Van Gogh’s Starry Night would look like if all the blues were green—even if I can’t top the old master, I’d at least enjoy the opportunity to play with it.

About the Scout

Bobby Carlton

Hello, my name is Bobby Carlton. When I'm not exploring the world of immersive technology, I'm writing rock songs about lost love. I'd also like to mention that I can do 25 push-ups in a row.

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