Here at Patternmakers, we love hearing about new technology offerings from cultural institutions. Below are five new projects that caught our attention because they not only offer new ways to experience culture, they demonstrate how technology giants are getting ever more creative.
 

1. Intel X Royal Shakespeare Company

Following a year of research with Intel and performance capture company The Imaginarium Studios, the Royal Shakespeare Company is delivering a new production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest that brings digital avatars to life on stage in real-time, interacting with live actors. Using technology that has most famously been used in films and gaming, they're able to capture an actor’s facial expressions and movements, ensuring the actor’s full performance is translated into the animated character. 

Why we love it: The show brings together theatre-making skills with digital innovation, pushing technical boundaries to create a truly innovative production for a new generation. For more information, visit rsc.org.uk
 

2. Google X Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is using Tango, Google's augmented reality technology to give visitors additional information overlaid on real world art, connecting people with artworks in a global context beyond the DIA. Using the museum's smartphones, people can scan objects like an ancient limestone sculpture from Mesopotamia that has long lost its colours over the years and see how it looked before the colours faded, encouraging the imagination about the artworks in its original setting. 

Why we love it:  Museum goers can experience history in new ways through augmented reality, allowing them to see the unseen, understand how objects from the past were used and experienced in people's everyday lives. For more information, visit dia.org
 

3. Explorer X American Museum of Natural History

Explorer is more than just another app — it's a personal tour guide and curator to many curious visitors wandering through the expansive American Museum of Natural History. It offers fun facts, videos, and teaching tools for dozens of the most compelling items throughout the exhibits. According to NY Times Joseph Berger, it does things like “lets you hear the sound the real (blue whale) makes underwater” and also has “a Bluetooth-operated feature that guides you with GPS-like directions” to points of interest — apparently very helpful when looking for the bathroom or the cafe.  

Why we love it: Explorer enhances the museum experience and in an environment where stillness is usually the standard, it awakens the senses and brings the artefacts to life. For more information, visit nytimes.com
 

4. Octava X Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

In-performance apps have previously been the subject of taboo, but this new offering finds away around the challenge of bright screens in a dark auditorium. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is now offering Octava, a digital app that delivers real-time programme notes to audiences’ mobile devices, aiming to introduce newcomers to classical music and enhance their concert experience. 

Consider the app like a friend who can give you context for the musical ideas you’re hearing, translate the beautiful nuances of the language of the music, and let you know where you are in the performance so you can clap at the appropriate time. And the best part? Octava’s DarkscreenTM technology also allows information to be presented without distracting the user or those around them, and after 45 seconds, the screen goes dark. The user can re-engage if they so choose at any point in time during the performance.

Why we love it: Octava synchronises an old tradition with new technology, enriching the overall experience for concert-going newbies by providing in-depth details about the music and movements and possibly sparking a newfound love for symphonic sounds. For more information, visit rhinegold.co.uk
 

5. Samsung X Sydney Opera House

We all know the Sydney Opera House is an icon of Australia’s creative and technical achievement. Now with its Principal Partner Samsung, a stylish new social space called The Lounge features technology and art in a futuristic setting. Guests can comfortably sit and enjoy a number experiences ranging from historic architectural drawings and interviews with the Opera House’s architect Jorn Utzon to a thrilling virtual-reality experience of standing atop the famous sails. 

Why we love it: The Lounge is an exciting alternative to a behind-the-scenes or backstage tour, and uses the latest technology so guests can engage with the Opera House’s history, art and culture at their own pace and in the comfort. For more information, visit sydneyoperahouse.com


Have you experienced any of these technologies?
Is your organisation experimenting with these technologies?

We'd love to hear from you.


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About the Author

Tandi Williams
Managing Director

Patternmakers’ Founder and Managing Director Tandi Williams is an experienced consultant and arts and culture research specialist.