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Google Wants To Give Museum Visitors A Pokémon Go-Like Experience

January 9, 2017, 8:29 PM UTC

Google wants to make museums more interactive for visitors.

The search giant said Monday that the Detroit Institute of Arts will use Google (GOOG) augmented reality technology to give visitors additional information overlaid on real world art. Now when people visit the museum, they can use one of the museum’s smartphones to see customized visuals when they hover the phone over the exhibit and peer at its screen.

Google’s Tango augmented reality technology powers the museum’s Lenovo Phab 2 Pro phones, which creates a sort-of Pokémon Golike experience for visitors. But instead of seeing digital monsters appear on the phone’s screens when people look at an exhibit, people will get something a bit more educational.

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For example, when people point the smartphone at a mummy’s sarcophagus as part of an Ancient Egypt exhibit, they will be able to “explore an X-ray-like view of the skeleton” in the ancient coffin by looking at the phone, according to a Google blog post.

In another exhibit, a limestone sculpture created thousands of years ago in ancient Mesopotamia has long lost its colors over the years. But when people scan the sculpture with the phone, they can see how it looked before the colors faded.

The Detroit Institute of Arts teamed with Google and the mobile app technology company GuidiGO to build the new museum initiative.

In 2014, Google chose GuidiGO as a partner company to help build similar museum apps for its Internet-connected smartglasses Google Glass. With Google Glass failing to catch on, it appears GuidiGO is trying to incorporate Google’s Tango technology to provide more interactive mobile apps for museums like the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Developers can use Tango to build custom apps that use an Android phone’s 3D motion trackers and sensors to help the devices orient themselves in specific locations and understand where their users are holding them.

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“This is just the beginning of how you’ll be able to use Tango in museums to see more, hear more and learn more,” wrote Google’s senior product manager of Tango, Justin Quimby in a blog post. “Stay tuned as we bring Tango to even more museums around the world.”