The Keeper of Paintings launches at The National Gallery

Children and Augmented Reality Characters in the National Gallery

The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception, the free mobile-based immersive game set at The National Gallery in London, has officially launched to the public.

The AR app is the first of its kind launched by The National Gallery, and has been created with the help of over 80 children.

Having been selected as winners of the StoryFutures China Storylab commission in early 2021, the launch is the culmination of a year-long project by the Arcade team, working in collaboration with The National Gallery, StoryFutures and a wider partnership group including Royal Holloway University of London and Brunel University of London.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF THE KEEPERS

This child-led experience takes place in the National Gallery, London but also, through augmented reality, a wider imagined world of Keepers where a group of magical beings who help care for some of our world’s most precious objects. 

Young Gallery visitors are asked to help guide a fictitious Keeper of Paintings to find a lost ‘Palette of Perception’ – a magical object with special gems that gives them ‘powers’ – to engage with the paintings digitally. As they move through the Gallery responding to the app’s story, a new digital world is revealed where visitors can solve puzzles, find hidden secrets, and collect the gems connected to the paintings.

The app is designed to be fun and rewarding for children and their families, but its primary goal is to foster interest and engagement with the Gallery’s masterpieces. The challenges within the game all require the kids to explore the art with their eyes, and include regular breaks in which they are prompted to put the phones away and chat about the paintings with their friends and family.

The cleverness of the app design is that the rewards only come via close study [of the paintings] with the naked eye.

The Sunday Times
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Jon Meggitt, Co‐Founder of Arcade and lead developer, says: ‘We were absolutely thrilled to win the opportunity to develop this experience in partnership with this special and talented group, but working alongside StoryFutures, the National Gallery, the wonderful kids of the Children’s Advisory Group and all the other partners has exceeded every one of our expectations.’

Lawrence Chiles, Head of Digital at the National Gallery, London, says: ‘It’s fantastic that we are able to launch our first dedicated app for children that creates a new perspective on the paintings at the National Gallery. Arcade, the children and all the partners involved have created something really magical.’

Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures at Royal Holloway, University of London, says: ‘The National Gallery and Arcade have taken on a massive innovation challenge. This project shows what can be achieved in linking great storytelling with innovative new immersive technologies. Perhaps the most exciting thing is that the story of The Keeper of Paintings has only just begun.’

DOWNLOAD TODAY

The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception is designed for 7-11 year olds, will run at The National Gallery for at least 12 months, and can be downloaded for free on the Apple and Google stores now.

To plan your visit to The National Gallery, please visit www.nationalgallery.org.uk/keeper

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE KEEPER OF PAINTINGS OR TO TALK TO THE TEAM, GET IN TOUCH

Testers Wanted! Keeper of Paintings goes into Beta at the National Gallery

The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception, the new immersive game set at The National Gallery in London, is being Beta-tested by children and their families throughout the half-term week, February 12th-20th.

This is the last major milestone before the full public launch of the experience at Easter, and is the result of nearly a year of development by the Arcade team, working in collaboration with The National Gallery, StoryFutures and a wider partnership group including Royal Holloway University of London, Brunel University of London and Foremost.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

If you are a parent or carer of 7-11 year old children and would enjoy spending an hour or so having fun playing together in the iconic surrounds of The National Gallery, click the image or link to sign up!

ABOUT THE KEEPER OF PAINTINGS

Step into a hidden world of art and magic at The National Gallery. Have you got what it takes to help the Keeper of Paintings and find the lost Palette of Perception? The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception is a free mobile-based immersive adventure that encourages children to explore one of the world’s most iconic galleries and learn about some of the greatest artworks ever created. The child-led experience takes place in the physical world of the National Gallery but also – through the magic of augmented reality – in the fictional storyworld of the Keepers, a mysterious group of magical beings who watch over some of our world’s most precious treasures. Suitable for ages 7-11. Families participating in the Beta testing will help to shape the final experience due to launch at Easter, and will receive an Amazon voucher in thanks for their time.

A Vixen’s Tale launches!

Welsh National Opera Vixen Teaser Image

Arcade is delighted to bring augmented reality to opera with A Vixen’s Tale, a mixed physical and digital experience designed to immerse opera-goers new and old in the story of Leoš Janáček’s iconic The Cunning Little Vixen. The work was commissioned by Welsh National Opera (WNO), and launched at WNO’s Explore Opera Day on October 5th at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.

A Vixen’s Tale is a free experience that invites visitors of all ages to step into the world of The Cunning Little Vixen, where they can use augmented reality to experience a hidden world of enchanting narratives. Through playful interactions, immersive illustrations and an arresting soundscape set across five physical arches, visitors will walk with the opera’s Vixen and experience her story for themselves.


A Vixen’s Tale will run until November 3rd, with plans for it to tour nationally and internationally throughout 2020.

Roxy the Ranger: The story behind the world’s first AR chatbot in a visitor attraction

SEA LIFE Junior Ranger AR Poster
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To get in touch, contact us at contact@arcade.ltd

 

“At Arcade, we’re all about making meaningful connections between people and places”

It starts with strategy: Roxy was created for the London Aquarium by Arcade, to amplify SEA LIFE’s ‘Amazing Discovery’ essence, which is all about fun, interactive learning.

Augmented reality is the perfect technology for a challenge like this because it has a unique ability to fire the imagination, particularly when used sparingly rather than persistently. It shows us worlds, places, objects – or, in this case, characters – that are hidden from the naked eye, but even when the device goes away and Roxy disappears from view, she still persists in our imagination. We may not be able to see her, but we know she is nearby. As a result, our relationship with the aquarium and the creatures within is transformed, and radically deepened.

“It’s important that AR is used to enhance experiences, not replace them”

Available via a free app, Roxy helps SEA LIFE visitors, especially families with kids aged 4-10, to understand more about the creatures they see by entertaining, educating and rewarding them through a series of engaging challenges. Kids can chat with Roxy and pilot her various craft (including a ray-like submersible and flying machine), and are encouraged to quiz their grown-ups on the facts they have learned along the way. Roxy rewards them with Ranger Cards, and at the end of the experience they become fully-fledged Junior Rangers!

Critically, the AR experience is designed to amplify the connection between visitors and the aquarium. In between challenges, visitors are encouraged to explore the space without Roxy’s help, creating a virtuous circle of engagement between the physical experience and the digital one.

“It is was really important to have a character, so there was something in the space for kids to see and interact with”

Roxy plays the role of a SEA LIFE curator or aquarist, and was intricately designed to be as believable as possible, whilst also embracing a cute, animated character aesthetic to appeal to young visitors. It was important to make her feel dynamically involved with the world of the aquarium, which is where her vehicles come in – allowing kids to go with her into the tanks and foster a sense of shared discovery.

“It increased the level of engagement, it increased the level of fun, it increased the level of interactivity”

 The impact of the experience, as validated by two independent trials, has been phenomenal. From a business perspective, ‘dwell time’ was identified as a key metric at the outset, with a target of increasing it by 10%; trials showed that visitors using the app spent on average 25% longer in the aquarium than those without, with dramatically higher satisfaction scores and perceived value for money from their SEA LIFE experience.

As importantly, if not more so, kids and parents alike expressed their excitement and delight with their interactions with Roxy. Parents in particular appreciated the educational benefit and appreciated the way their kids slowed down and took their time to engage with both Roxy and the sea creatures themselves. 

“Working with Arcade has been incredible. They are so responsive, so knowledgeable, so accommodating, so much fun to work with. I would work with them again any time, any day, anywhere.” – Rita Marcal, Global Senior Brand Manager, SEA LIFE.

5 principles for responsible AR to address screen time phobia

Augmented reality and the great screen debate

Screen time. We hear a lot about it, almost exclusively in the context of how best to limit it. A small but growing number of resorts, restaurants and other visitor destinations are making the news for offering incentives to customers who lock their phones away, more and more apps are designed to help us (and our kids) spend more time screen-free, and Apple has even launched a built-in screen time limiter with iOS 12. All of which throws more fuel onto the good tech / bad tech fire – and the debate continues to rage.

As practitioners in augmented reality, we are challenged regularly about mobile screen time by concerned clients: “but I want my kids to use screens less, not more” or, “won’t this just make people walk around with their screens in front of their face all the time?”

These are fair challenges, and the immersive technology industry – especially those of us focusing on the mobile side of things – needs to take them seriously. It’s not enough to wave them away with platitudes about how engaging, entertaining and rewarding the experiences are. The truth is, in a world of mounting concern about digital addiction and the antisocial behaviours mobile devices can foster, it doesn’t matter how great an immersive experience is; if it means promoting more time glued to our screens we are only going to encounter more resistance.

Instead, we have to play our part in reassuring society that the innovative, engaging experiences we create have a positive impact on how we engage with the screens in our pockets. Responsible, socially-aware design and development is key, which is why we at Arcade believe in a set of principles that help us achieve just that:

Windows, not screens

To us, your device is a magic window onto an invisible world. The content is not in your phone, it is in the physical environment beyond your phone. Our experiences are designed to make the device as unobtrusive as possible – something to be looked through, not at.

Heads up

Most mobile content is viewed ‘head-down’ – neck and eyes extended downwards, device pointing towards the floor. Our augmented experiences raise the gaze and reacquaint you with the world around you, at eye-level.

Put it away

We design narrative-led, connected experiences that create a virtuous circle of engagement between the physical and digital worlds, which don’t rely on your device throughout. A specific location triggers a digital experience and, when it is complete, your phone goes away again until you reach the next one.

Healthier habits

Mobile usage is not created equal. Immersive experiences like ours are designed to positively shift people’s usage patterns, substituting those that isolate them from the physical world to those which meaningfully engage them in it.

Primacy of place

Lastly, Arcade was founded on a fundamental belief in the importance of place in the digital age; augmented reality is simply the tool we use to foster a deeper connection with, and appreciation of, the world around us. The physical environment drives the technology, not the other way around.

By adhering to these principles, we at Arcade – and the immersive tech industry as a whole – can respond to the challenges that are coming our way with confidence and conviction, that locking phones away isn’t the answer; making them part of our healthy engagement with the world around us is the key.

#augmentedreality #screentime #playableplaces #arcade