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The Knight Foundation awards 5 grants to make art more accessible through tech

The Knight Foundation awards 5 grants to make art more accessible through tech
[Photo: Flickr user Better Than Bacon]

Hey, Alexa, tell me about the exhibition at the Smithsonian Design Museum?

Between keeping up with your podcasts, liking everyone’s pics on social media, and staying up to date on premium television, it’s hard to make time for the arts. Tech companies are starting to realize that and are making apps and products that can help time-strapped art lovers–and they just got a little boost from the Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund.

The foundation has announced it will award grants to 12 innovative tech organizations and cultural institutions that are using AR, VR, and other technology to make the arts more accessible, build audiences, and help cultural institutions thrive in the digital age. Recipients of the $50,000 grants include companies working to make it easier for cultural institutions to make data-centered programming decisions, making gallery visits more immersive, and making it easier for busy folks to get to get a little culture.

Here are a few of the winning prototypes that may be coming soon to a museum near you:

  • Exploring the Gallery Through Voice​, Alley InteractiveProject: Exploring how conversational interfaces, like Amazon Alexa, can provide remote audiences with access to an exhibition experience at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
  • The Bass in VR, The BassProject: Using 360-degree photography technology to capture and share the exhibit experience in an engaging, virtual way for remote audiences.
  • Improving Arts Accessibility through Augmented Reality Technology​, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, in collaboration with People’s Light: Making theater and performance art more accessible for the deaf, hard of hearing and non-English speaking communities by integrating augmented reality smart glasses with an open access smart captioning system to accompany live works.
  • ConcertCue, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Developing a mobile app for classical music audiences that receives real-time program notes at precisely timed moments of a live musical performance.
  • Wiki Art Depiction Explorer​, Wikimedia in collaboration with the Smithsonian InstitutionProject: Using crowdsourcing methods to improve Wikipedia descriptions of artworks in major collections so people can better access and understand art virtually.
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