My second stream of enquiry for the SNU was to go and see two of the leading museums in London using AR, I have been in touch with Racheal Campbell who is the Assistant Press Officer at the Science Museum in London and she has helped put me in touch with Dave Patten who is Head of their New Media team. I had arranged a meeting with Dave, but unfortunately at the last minute I couldn’t meet with him face to face, but he was able to give me half an hour over the phone, he was great to talk to, really enthusiastic and has been involved with new technology for a long time at the Museum. We talked about where Augmented Reality had come from, QR codes and the fact that they have been around for such a long time, although not always used directly they tell the viewer there is extra content within the item, so a good tool. Dave is very interested in seamlessly incorporating technology displays within the viewer’s natural gaze, ie, with Google goggles and also digital contact lens technology. More realistic and within the public’s grasp is something he is working on currently, display cases with transparent screens, so that the glazing becomes a display. This is at the cutting edge of advertising and commercial use of this new glass technology, but he – and I agree with him – can see much more educational and informational uses for this, very exciting. He said I should keep in touch with him and follow their progress as they enter the beta testing phase for one of these display cases…

Upon my visit, Racheal was kind enough to show me around the newest exhibits using AR, or forms of and as the place is rather sprawling I was very glad of her help in directing me to the best bits.

The first bit we went to was in an environment zone where they had set up a ‘blank’ book, with only simple trigger icons on each of the pages, a camera above feeds this into a screen and when it recognises the different icons, new information appears and animates on screen in front of the viewer, making it an interactive book. This was one of the newest items that Dave and his team had set up, and although there is a lot of information, they find that people take more time to experience the interactivity and therefore the information, a very clever way of getting people engaged. (see youtube clip)

Virtual Book video


The big Augmented Reality experience at the Science Museum is the James May app. Qualcomm and Vuforia came to the Science Museum with the idea for the James May app and worked with Dave and the Museum to put it into place. I met Julian Harris from Qualcomm eighteen months ago when this app was newly launched at an AR summit, and he showed us some of the behind the scenes work that Vuforia did with James May to get the 3D model working correctly, so that when you point your device at the trigger image, James pops onto your screen and talks about the model, right in situ.

James May App

The science museum has many innovative and exciting areas, but these were the standout elements for me and I had only limited time to look at and play with them!


SM_interactive SM_stand SM_innoZoneSM_globeSM_floorripple

Other areas included a rippling floor projection, the Google Chrome lab, a 3D globe using 4 projectors to show night, day and environmental damage, a sensorial stand and a simple interactive information board.


They have about 15 ideas for projects within the museum every month in varying degrees of development, and like to work with a wide variety of outside agencies and individuals to keep it all fresh, and to challenge themselves! Dave finds that using historical collections and contextualising them in the now is the best way to engage people, and wants to keep the Science Museum at the fore of new technology for Museums.