Christie’s tasked AD:60 with helping their buyers see artwork come to life in their very own homes through the use of augmented reality. Buyers no longer have to guess where to place their statement pieces, they can simply use the app to set the art on any wall, and in any room.
After the public release of Apple’s ARKit last September, we were excited to get our hands on the new technology. The framework simplified some of the most challenging tasks presented by augmented reality. It could detect floors and tables, pick out various features in your surroundings, simulate real-world lighting and could even make precise estimations about the size and distance of objects around you.
What we learned
The initial release of ARKit was very powerful and elegant, but it lacked one crucial feature: the ability to detect vertical planes. Horizontal plane detection meant it was easy to put a table in your room, but Christie’s focus, in this case, was on framed visual artworks. No vertical plane detection meant we would have to conjure another way to get the artwork on the wall in a realistic and useful way.
Revolutionizing the experience
Since ARKit can’t automatically place objects on walls, AD:60 created an experience that allows users to move the artwork around their surroundings freely, using familiar touchscreen gestures such as panning, pinching, and rotating. As long as ARKit can detect some physical features in the immediate surroundings, it will place the artwork in front of the camera, facing the user. The user can manually position and orient the artwork, so it appears to hang on the wall. This method worked well with the technical limitations of ARKit, but we know the technology will eventually catch up, and we are positioning ourselves at the forefront of these innovations.
Iterate and Innovate
Six months after Apple put ARKit on the market, they released iOS 11.3 and, along with it, the very thing that would elevate the experience. Vertical plane detection made the task of hanging artwork on walls much easier, but it brought with it another set of challenges. Initially, the system could place the painting in the AR world as soon as the app was opened; now the system needed to detect a wall first. We were able to bridge the gap and take the idea of 2D focus square and translate it into a 3D context. When the system finds a vertical plane, the focus square is pinned to that wall in 3D space, and clearly indicates to the user that the system has found a place where they can hang their painting. These solutions combine to form an intuitive experience, making augmented reality accessible to all users.
“Through amazing collaboration and speed to market, AD:60 helped us introduce an important feature. With AR, the Christie’s buying experience is now a little more special.”
Tim Kompanchenko, CTO of Emerging Technology Group at Christie’s
Both the Christie’s emerging technology and AD:60 teams are excited at the possibilities Augmented Reality can do for the art world. You can experience Christie’s AR Home Gallery today by downloading the iOS application.