App, Art and architecture app, Smartify, Technology

New app can identify artwork and buildings

In late September, the Royal Academy of Arts in London hosted the Global Founding Partners launch event for its new art and building identifying app, Smartify.

The app, which aims to help people make meaningful connections with art, uses image recognition technology and allows gallery visitors to scan and identify artworks in multiple venues across the world, like the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York or the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Accessible via smartphone or tablet, Smartify consists of rich interpretation and allows users to build a personal collection.

Using advanced image recognition technology, Smartify instantly identifies artworks by scanning them on the user’s smartphone. Much like the music discovery app Shazam, Smartify works simply when the phone is held up to an artwork or building, and detailed information about the piece shows up on the screen.

The app also contains audio interviews with artists, glipmses of curatorial research and hidden stories behind the work.

Smartify’s team members were inspired by the deeper connection with art that they experienced after understanding the context and stories behind artworks and artefacts. According to a statement released by the team, they imagined an art guide that goes beyond audio guides and catalogues.

“Smartify originated from a genuine passion for art, and for the rich experience of learning about artworks while viewing them,” said Anna Lowe, co-founder and head of partnerships at Smartify. “We are incredibly excited that the platform is now easily accessible in many of the world’s leading museums and galleries. We hope to reframe the use of mobile phones in the gallery space as engagement rather than distraction.”

Other members on the team included Chris Michael, digital director at the National Gallery; Nick Sharp, digital director at the Royal Academy of Arts and Ben Griffin, innovation lead for design at Innovate UK. In addition to collaborating directly with museums on content, Smartify also worked with the Wikimedia Foundation to utilise Wikipedia images to increase the accuracy and speed of artwork recognition.