Augmented reality collaboration set to bring culture to life throughout Camden

Another major project that is proposed, should the council secure ‘London Borough of Culture* funding’, is an innovative collaboration with Camden’s communities and cultural institutions to build augmented reality ‘culture routes’.

The augmented reality culture routes will be created in partnership with London -founded augmented reality and computer vision company Blippar, the British Museum, Central St Martins, and local residents. The routes will bring to life the thousands of diverse cultural and historical stories and places of interests across the borough.

Residents and visitors will be able to unlock the augmented reality routes via their smartphones to experience the stories behind the exciting and creative energy of each location, whether the culture or sub-culture of a community, or the historical or current cultural significance of an open space, venue, or cultural institution.

The development of the ‘Camden Alive’ project will particularly focus on working with communities and residents who feel that they are rarely able to access mainstream cultural provision in Camden and London.  Engagement work with the British Museum will see residents selecting artefacts, objects and spaces that align with the cultural story of their community. Residents will then get the opportunity to learn how to create an augmented reality experience themselves based on those spaces and artefacts.

Outreach work will be carried out within community facilities on housing estates as well as in Camden’s libraries, as well as with the museum.

Across six augmented reality routes, running from housing estates to cultural institutions in the borough, around 120 virtual objects and their respective stories are expected to be available to those following the routes.

Councillor Jonathan Simpson, Cabinet Member for Promoting Culture and Communities, said:

“Camden is London’s home of culture and is famous for its creative energy and range of leading cultural institutions. Culture and heritage has always been integral to making Camden a better, more equal, place and celebrating the diversity and unity of our communities. But, with funding, there is much more we can do.

The Camden Alive project is a prime example. By using innovation and by partnering with some of the country’s leading cultural institutions, we will be able to create augmented reality routes , which not only tell the story of major cultural and historical sites, but which also bring to life the more radical and rebellious sub-cultures of our communities and residents. We will tell stories of place and migration, with objects and artefacts from the British Museum connecting to that location, individual or community.

“The routes will create physical and augmented reality pathways between our communities and leading cultural sites, changing how both residents and visitors conventionally engage with culture.

“The outreach work within our communities to create these cultural stories will link residents, particularly those who rarely engage with mainstream cultural provision, with leading cultural organisations and also those leading the development of some of the world’s leading technology and innovation. This will both upskill and empower the next cultural generation in Camden.”

Danny Lopez, Chief Operating Officer at Blippar, said:

“We’re delighted to provide the technology for this collaboration. At Blippar, we’re strong advocates of diversity -- we’re a diverse multicultural company ourselves with proud roots in London and we’re excited to tell the stories of the Camden community. Augmented reality is a powerful tool for storytelling, as it bridges the physical and digital worlds, breathing life into historical sites and artefacts. We also revel in the opportunity to teach the local community a brand new set of skills, the creation of highly engaging augmented reality experiences.”

Further information:

*Camden’s London Borough of Culture bid looks to build on Camden’s famous cultural heritage, partnering with the borough’s wealth of world class cultural organisations, to deliver a year of cultural projects to bring social benefit to Camden’s residents and empower the next cultural generation in Camden, including those who rarely feel they can access the mainstream cultural provision in Camden and London.

A wide range of projects will help to train and up-skill new creators and producers, including placing residents within a network of amazing high profile institutions to learn these skills, including The British Museum, The British Library, Camden Arts Centre, and the Roundhouse.

A programme of activity and events will be taken to our housing estates, community centres and schools – boosting cultural involvement, creativity, social cohesion, and boosting education attainment.