2010 Horizon.museum Short List

2010 Horizon.museum Report Short List pdf

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

Critical Challenges

Key Trends

Augmented Reality

Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years
The idea behind the term augmented reality (AR) is to blend, or augment, primarily location-based data accessed on the web with what we see in the real world. While the capability to deliver augmented reality experiences has been around for decades, it is only very recently that those experiences have become easy and portable. Advances in mobile devices as well as in the different technologies that combine the real world with virtual information have led to augmented reality applications that are as near to hand as any other application on a laptop or a smart phone. New uses for augmented reality are being explored and new experiments undertaken now that it is easy to do so. Emerging augmented reality tools to date have been mainly designed for marketing, social purposes, amusement, or location-based information, but new ones continue to appear as the technology becomes more popular. Augmented reality has become simple, and is now poised to enter the mainstream in the consumer sector.

Relevance for Museum Education and Interpretation

  • Within a culture in which visitors can rarely touch the objects in the collections, augmented reality has strong potential to provide powerful contextual, in situ learning experiences and serendipitous exploration.
  • Augmented reality can enhance interpretation by offering more, and more diverse, levels of interpretation.
  • Augmented reality has the ability to radically reconfigure the visitor experience both on-site and beyond. Coupled with location-based services, AR will be an important tool in taking museums' collections and content beyond the institution's walls.


  • Culture Clic offers a mobile AR experience of Paris that allows visitors to explore 500 geolocated paintings, photos and engravings: http://www.cultureclic.fr/
  • The Powerhouse Museum has developed an augmented reality application that allows visitors to use their mobile phones to see Sydney, Australia as it appeared one hundred years ago: http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/layar/

For Further Reading

If You Are Not Seeing Data, You Are Not Seeing
(Brian Chen, Wired Gadget Lab, 25 August 2009.) This article gives a good overview of augmented reality, including where it currently is situated and what to expect in the future.

Visual Time Machine Offers Tourists a Glimpse of the Past
(ScienceDaily, 17 August 2009.) New apps for smartphones offer augmented reality on the go. While on location, users view historical sites as they were hundreds of years ago.