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Ones To Watch 2021

The Augmented Gallery platform is a groundbreaking tool for creating XR cultural installations that help museums and galleries extend their reach beyond their physical premises and out onto the street. The platform transforms public spaces into multi-context on-demand art galleries. Our first project with the platform, ‘Art of London: Augmented Gallery’, is a first-of-its-kind cultural installation utilising location-based AR across 20x iconic locations in London’s West End, expanding to 27x locations by Autumn 202.

Imagine ‘Pokemon Go’, but for public art.

The Art of London project demonstrates how AR can unlock brand-new ways for institutions to open their collections to wider audiences; creating highly-visible, covid-safe, and social-media-ready moments of art serendipity in urban spaces, accessible to anyone with a smartphone.

The platform developed during Playlines’ Residency at the National Gallery X lab in 2020. We had a chance to see firsthand the changing needs of a major cultural institution under the pandemic, and in response we developed an AR prototype to deliver ‘remote cultural visits’ for distancing patrons to digitally ‘hang’ gallery paintings on their own walls at home. We were then commissioned by Premier PR and the Heart of London Business Alliance to build ‘Art of London: Augmented Gallery’, an immersive art trail for the West End, in partnership with the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Academy and Sky Arts, launched at a gala event at the National Gallery May 2021.

Prior to the lockdown, Playlines specialised in narrative consultancy and immersive XR theatre, a business model which largely had to go into hibernation in 2020. Since then our museum and gallery work represents a strong pivot to a new sector, utilising not just our world-leading location-based AR experience, but our track record in collaborating with major artists, license holders, cultural curators and academics.

The museum sector has urgent new needs which will last well beyond the end of lockdown: new challenges to fundraising, attracting younger audiences, and supporting civic and regional efforts to draw consumers and cultural tourists back to the high street.

We believe that Augmented Reality will be a key difference maker in meeting these needs, in particular location-based AR, which has the potential to create a new digital ecosystem for consumers to access museums’ content, whether ambiently, as part of a commute, or as a pop-up branded digital exhibition which can be rapidly deployed within public spaces, schools, community centres or transport hubs.

With mobile AR, immersive gallery installations can be on-demand, multilingual, and high-impact while not monopolising public space. And with app-based monetisation options, the Augmented Gallery platform can help museums develop new corporate and public fundraising strategies including subscription models, branded pop-up ‘art pods’ with rolling content, and even small-footprint, high-impact digital tours of blockbuster exhibitions.

We believe the response to Art of London has borne out our ambitions, with enthusiastic press from BBC London, Sky News, Conde Nast Traveller, the Evening Standard, and the New York Times. We’ve also received new commissions to expand the Augmented Gallery with new works including our first 3D artwork, and a new installation of National Gallery treasures on Trafalgar Square by August 2021, as well as currently negotiating with new clients for new iterations of the platform in other major UK cities.

We are now refining our platform and content pipeline and packaging up our proposition to appeal to museums internationally. The proposition will include a white-label, turn-key template for affordable digital ‘destination heritage’ experiences, targeting small museums and providing tools to expand their footprint into their communities and to fully integrate with destination retail initiatives. For larger institutions we’ll offer opportunities for bespoke creative collaboration to help showcase their artworks in new immersive ways, attracting new audiences and fundraising and fostering international collaborations with artists and tech partners.

Being featured as a CreaTech One to Watch would provide an invaluable boost to our credibility and proposition within our new sector. An endorsement by the CIC would give us a strong base to reach out to investors and international clients to take our company to the next level. We’ve always aimed to support vital cultural institutions and expand public access to great art, and these were inspiring goals for our small team during a time of crisis. Now, moving towards a post-pandemic world, we believe that the Augmented Gallery platform brings together the technology, design expertise and cultural insight to create innovative and impactful cultural experiences that have a scalability, flexibility and reach that's never before been possible.

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