Here’s what happens on Apple’s augmented reality walks


It's like an art installation in the sky.
Photo: Apple

Apple debuted its AR[T] augmented reality walks in several cities around the world over the weekend.

The walks take place from Apple Stores in San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. They boast augmented reality demos created by world renowned artists. A new report describes the experience.

An outdoor gallery

One of CNBC‘s writers a walk in San Francisco. They write that:

“Over about two hours, we walked from the store to an alley, across Market Street to Yerba Buena Gardens, and to a historic church and back …

We’d walk to a location, like Maiden Lane, a cute little alley in downtown San Francisco. Then, we were told to find and point our phones at a ‘marker’ like a sign, which allows the phone to place digital objects and creatures in the real world by giving the phone a point to orient the graphics around. Once you scan the marker — feeling a little haptic pulse when it’s locked in — then you get a few minutes to walk around and experience the art.

At the end of each art piece, the guide asked us to all put our loaner phones together, then the guide would press buttons on his iPad, and all the phones would shut off, turn to black, and we’d be asked to put it in our pockets so we could walk to the next location.”

It’s an interesting sounding experience. CNBC‘s says that the walk they attended was not quite as widely attended as expected. Despite Apple’s website showing that they were fully booked, there were still plenty of spaces on the walk they went on.

Each walk is guided by an Apple Store employee. People who go on the walk get to borrow an iPhone XS Max and pair of Beats Solo headphones. It is not possible to use your personal iPhone.

“There’s a bit of a ritual to see the art,” they write. “The tour guide turned each experience on and off from an iPad Pro, and also led discussions about what we saw.”

Apple promotes art

It’s great to hear that Apple is exploring the artistic side of AR. Plenty of attention has been lavished on things like IKEA’s AR app, which lets users virtually place items of furniture in their homes before buying it. Others have explored mapping applications for ARKit.

These are the kinds of everyday use-cases consumers will need to see to be convinced of AR. But Apple has also got a long history of promoting the use of technology to create art. In the early days of the Mac, Andy Warhol was interested in using the Mac for creating art. Recently, a film shot on the iPhone was a prizewinner at the prestigious Turner Prize in the UK.

Is this the future of art galleries as we know it? Probably not. But it’s definitely a cool showcase of what augmented reality is capable of. If Apple’s able to keep getting interesting artists to create AR experiences, I can absolutely see this becoming a big thing. Hopefully it won’t be long before it expands to more locations worldwide.

Will you be attending one of Apple’s AR[T] walks? Did you do so last weekend? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.