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Smithsonian Exploring AR Solutions for Burning Man

Smithsonian Museum Lets Users Experience Burning Man Exhibit Through Custom Snapchat Lens

Every year, tens of thousands of people get together in the Nevada desert, erect a fake city where money is not allowed, and live for a week and a half as if the world had experienced a nuclear apocalypse. The event? Burning Man. 

While just over 50,000 people are expected to attend the event, the Smithsonian Museum is looking to make the event accessible to the rest of the world. Their Burning Man exhibit, No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, utilizes an augmented reality Snapchat Lens to allow users to “walk through” the Renwick Gallery where the exhibit is located.

Ilana Rosin, Associate Director of Paid Social Media, said this about the exhibit:

“It looks a little funny when you see people holding up their phone and staring at their screen. But what they’re actually doing is viewing the art, reading about the artists that created them, and moving around the room.”

Sponsored by technology giant Intel, this project allegedly started as a way for the Smithsonian to digitize its millions of timeless artifacts “just in case.” But now, the project has expanded into creating mixed reality experiences to over one billion people worldwide.

To take things one step further, Intel has also announced a partnership with Sansar, a virtual reality social network lead by the founders of the now-defunct social network Second Life. In Q4 2018, users will be able to don a virtual reality headset and “follow” VR museum curators for a tour — just like they were in the Smithsonian.

From Snapchat’s perspective, this appears to ironically be a way for the company to stay relevant. As Instagram continues to steal market share from their little brother, Snapchat finds its daily user base shrinking while Instagram’s grows. While this is encouraging rapid development from the Venice Beach startup, it remains to be seen whether or not it will be the feature that returns Snapchat to its 2016 glory.

What do you think about the Smithsonian’s Burning Man project? Let us know in a comment!

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