Images courtesy of Bryan Amburgey.
Bryan Amburgey’s goal is to make Long Beach the first augmented city of the future using a technology called Augmented Reality (AR), where a smartphone’s camera can be used to see interactive digital images superimposed on top of the real world.
“We are now in a transition toward the next Internet, the Heads Up Internet, where instead of looking down into a device we will be looking through a device to experience the Internet all around us,” he told the Post.
Enter Walls: An ARt Walk, created by Augmented Reality Long Beach (ARLB) and Assignment Creative, two locally-founded technological entities focused on advancing the AR platform for local creatives. It took two months to create the virtual “open air” art exhibit that will be introduced to the Long Beach community on Saturday, June 20 at the Art Exchange.
Amburgey, founder of ARLB, has been creating AR experiences in Long Beach for the last four years, with this goal to create the city that will serve as “the prototype for the Augmented City of the future.”
Perhaps most notable was his collaboration with this very publication before it became online-only, where six print issues were dubbed “Active Editions” and brought to digital life. A reader could scan their smartphone over a page and watch as relevant media would appear on the screen.
Now exhibit-goers can hold up their smartphones to the blank walls of downtown this weekend (and for at least a month after the fact) to see the work of local artists Sander Roscoe Wolff, Vincent Mattina, Elisa Ang and Margie Darrow, among many others. Using their phones, they can also see performances and music videos that add a little color and vibrancy to the urban environment.
Amburgey and Halvorson met at WE Labs and decided to collaborate on a project that would involve local artists, musicians and, of course, AR. Brandon Halvorson, CEO of Assignment Creative, a new-to-town independent music site for both musicians and their fans, hopped on the bandwagon after Amburgey introduced him to the technology.
“Augmented reality is the next big step in technology and we're excited to be involved with Bryan who has become an incredible evangelist for the technology," Halvorson said. "I see a very exciting future for AR technology, especially in the realm of music, which makes this partnership very exciting.”
Regarding the undeniable fact that our “real” lives are becoming more and more integrated with the online world, Amburgey has a positive outlook and the motivation to show that AR can be used for something good, not just for profit.
“Walls is a glimpse of the future - where the Internet will be all around us,” said Amburgey. “However, our goal was to show that this technology can be used for something like showing local art instead of just another way to see advertisements.”
Walls will support local artists by allowing an interested viewer to instantly learn more about the individual. The user can simply tap the AR image to be directed to the creative’s website. Amburgey also noted that most of the art featured in Walls is for sale.
Users will be given a tutorial on how to download and utilize the app at the Art Exchange on Saturday.
As far as AR is concerned, this smartphone-oriented art exhibit is just the beginning.
“Eventually AR devices like Smart Glasses will become widely adopted and the experience will be more intuitive than having to hold your phone up to see the Augmented Reality,” he said.
Amburgey added that Epson America, headquartered by the Long Beach Airport, was one of the first companies to create smart glasses, called the Moverio BT-200.
“We have been testing ARLB on their glasses and plan on releasing a full version soon,” he said. “We are excited to see how people will react to seeing Augmented Reality for the first time. Especially because ARLB is solely focused on Long Beach, and we know that some of those who attend will think of ways to use this technology for their own events.”
Walls: An ARt Walk will begin at ArtExchange on Saturday, June 20 from 1:00PM to 7:00PM, where a map will be provided to direct participants toward all the active walls in downtown.
The virtual exhibit will remain on display for at least a month after the opening.