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Augmented Reality Lets You Hang Priceless Artworks in Your Home

A Picasso for the man cave — why not? Apple and Artsy have an app for you.

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We all know of the novelties of virtual reality. Just strap this screen to your face, and you’re transported to a world full of rollercoasters, waterfalls, and desert vistas while everyone is watching you from the outside giggles at how dumb you look. But augmented reality? That’s a tool of a different sort, and perhaps best of all, there’s no face-fixed machinery required. Instead, it mixes the real and the digitally created, making it useful in situations beyond a run-of-the-mill party trick.

Now, in a first attempt at making augmented reality an everyday necessity, art auction platform Artsy had teamed up with Apple to allow us to “virtually hang” artworks on our walls before completing a purchase. It comes on the heels of the implementation of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 11.3, which, among other bells and whistles includes ARKit 1.5. Tech jargon aside, this means that your phone can recognize vertical and horizontal surfaces – namely, walls. Can you see where this is going?

With this new infrastructure, Artsy’s team of engineers whipped up an application that answers the question: But what will this Picasso look like on my wall? It’s a question that remains one of the most daunting hurdles for all web-based art retailers, and while most shoppers won’t be plunking down several million for a blue chip artist, any art acquisition often requires some face time between the work and its buyer.

“We consistently hear from prospective and experienced art buyers that one of the key challenges of purchasing art online is not being able to see the work in person,” said Artsy’s CEO and Founder Carter Cleveland. “The launch of an unparalleled augmented reality feature marks an important step for Artsy in building the world’s most seamless and enjoyable art buying experience—fostering a greater passion for art, encouraging more people to buy art for their living spaces, and in turn, expanding the overall art world.”

Aside from the application’s practicality that now allows art obsessives to buy their works online with confidence, it also includes access to Artsy’s digital inventory of over 800,000 works. A good portion comes from emerging artists you may not be familiar with just yet, but a generous swathe in the line-up are the sort of world-famous masterpieces you can’t help but recognize. There’s Edvard Munch’s The Scream, Pablo Picasso’s Seated Woman in Red Armchair, and even Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

So, whether you’re in the market to buy or not, let your imagination run wild and position these works in the most mundane of places — all thanks to augmented reality.