This spring, the BBC will broadcast Civilisations – a mammoth, lavish documentary series that does for art what Blue Planet and Planet Earth do for the animal kingdom.
Presented by Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga, the programmes look at artworks from around the world and throughout the ages, to see what they say about the different eras of human kind.
However, the shows aren’t where Civilisations ends. The Beeb will also release a free augmented reality application to complement the series.
Available for Android and iOS, Civilisations AR essentially puts 30 to 40 objects from museums and collections around the UK in your living room or just about anywhere you like. They have been fully 3D scanned so you can see them lifesize through your phone or tablet, placed on a real-world floor or surface.
For example, one object is an ancient Egyptian mummy, which is first shown in a sarcophagus. But interact with it through an x-ray feature and you can see the fully scanned mummy inside too.You also get text and spoken information about the objects as you explore them, with deep interactive facts and educational features for all ages.
Other features include the ability to restore some of the objects. Rub them and you can turn a faded image to a lusher, restored version.
The app is built by the BBC R&D department and Nexus, a development agency, using Unity and based on ARKit for iOS and ARCore for Android. The core software is also designed to be used for other applications in future, with AR possibilities to accompany other shows and series.
It will be completely free to download and new objects will be added through updates after the initial release. It will release with the start of Civilisations on BBC Two around the start of March.