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Sheffield launches ‘UK first’ AR art trail Look Up

LookUp, Sheffield

A new augmented reality (AR) art trail in Sheffield, featuring moving visual and audio artwork on city centre rooftops, has been billed as the first of its kind in the UK, and possibly the world, by its creators.

The Look Up project is conceived and produced by the Marketing Sheffield team, part of Sheffield City Council. It showcases digital works created by Sheffield-based artists and businesses, and is being supported by San Francisco based AR royalty, Niantic Labs, who developed the ground-breaking Pokémon Go mobile game.

Using a free app, people will be guided to four central locations – Sheffield Hallam University’s Owen Building, the Central Library and Graves Gallery in Tudor Square, the old John Lewis building in Barkers Pool, and the University of Sheffield’s Diamond building – where QR codes on the floor can be scanned on a smartphone to reveal the portal and artwork.

The AR art will then appear on the user’s screen ‘layered’ over the real world, and will be ‘anchored’ to the rooftop using new technology. This allows people to look and listen to the unique, moving and animated displays and share their experiences by taking photos and videos.

Marketing Sheffield has worked with local companies who have specialist skills with global repute in their field. Megaverse has built the app and platform; Universal Everything & Human Studio have created the artworks, and Jaywing have provided marketing support.

The project has been funded by the Getting Building Fund, which supports the delivery of projects agreed with mayors and Local Enterprise Partnerships to boost economic growth and fuel local recovery and jobs.

It is hoped that Look Up will encourage visitors to the city centre while also drawing attention the city’s thriving creative and tech sectors and while enhancing Sheffield’s reputation to a global audience, particularly following TimeOut’s recent listing of the city as the second best in Europe for a city break.

Mark Mobbs, place brand and marketing manager for city campaigns at Marketing Sheffield, said: “Ultimately this project has created a platform for the city of Sheffield. As far as we are aware, no city has used augmented reality in this way before, turning their centre and buildings into a permanent, and free, fun art trail.

“We want the trail to grow over time – it would be incredible if Sheffield became known around the globe as the only major city to have an AR art gallery as part and parcel of the city itself. Not only does this promote cultural values, but health and wellbeing too – the trail is designed to be accessed on foot and all locations will be outdoors, meaning our moniker of The Outdoor City, where nature meets culture, can truly come to life.”

Mobbs added that his team are already involved in talks to bring more pieces to the display over the course of the year and beyond, with details to follow when appropriate.

Look Up is available to download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or via the Look Up landing page on the Welcome to Sheffield website, where more information can also be found about the project and businesses involved, as well as further tips for visitors to the city and the very latest information.

(Main image shows:, l-r: Drift by Universal Everything at The Diamond, Hangkong by Human Studio in Tudor Square and Together by Universal Everything on top of the John Lewis building. Courtesy Marketing Sheffield)

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