‘First of its kind’ augmented reality art trail launches in city

A new augmented reality (AR) art trail in Sheffield which features moving visual and audio artwork on city centre rooftops has been billed as the first of its kind in the UK and possibly the world.

The Look Up project is conceived and produced by the Marketing Sheffield team, which is part of Sheffield City Council.

It showcases digital works created by Sheffield-based artists and businesses, and is being supported by San Francisco based Niantic Labs, which developed the ground-breaking Pokémon Go mobile game.

Using a free app, people will be guided to four central locations – Sheffield Hallam University’s Owen Building, the Central Library and Graves Gallery in Tudor Square, the old John Lewis building in Barkers Pool, and the University of Sheffield’s Diamond building – where QR codes on the floor can be scanned on a smartphone within the app to reveal the portal and artwork.

The AR art will then appear on the user’s screen ‘layered’ over the real world, and will be ‘anchored’ to the rooftop using new technology. This allows people to look and listen to the moving and animated displays and share their experiences by taking photos and videos.

Marketing Sheffield has worked with local companies which have specialist skills.

Megaverse has built the app and platform; Universal Everything and Human Studio have created the artworks, and Jaywing has provided marketing support.

The project has been funded by the ‘Getting Building Fund’ which is supporting the delivery of projects agreed with mayors and Local Enterprise Partnerships to boost economic growth, and fuel local recovery and jobs.

It is hoped Look Up will encourage visitors to the city centre and people to join the city’s creative and tech sectors, while enhancing Sheffield’s reputation to a global audience.

Mark Mobbs, place brand and marketing manager for city campaigns at Marketing Sheffield, said: “Ultimately what this project has created is a platform for the city of Sheffield.

“As far as we are aware, no city has used augmented reality in this way before, turning their centre and buildings into a permanent and free, fun art trail.

“We want the trail to grow over time – it would be incredible if Sheffield became known around the globe as the only major city to have an AR art gallery as part and parcel of the city itself.

“Not only does this promote cultural values, but health and wellbeing too – the trail is designed to be accessed on foot and all locations will be outdoors, meaning our moniker of The Outdoor City, where nature meets culture, can truly come to life.”

Look Up is available to download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. It is easily accessible by visiting the Look Up landing page, where more information can be found about the project.

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