Augmented Reality Mural

Posted: 21st March 2019
Making Murals Animated

What is it?

Augmented reality allows 2 dimensional murals to become animated. The viewer scans a QR code next to the work and holds the camera on their phone over the image.

Using modern technology such as filters on social media platforms the work becomes interactive. Much like face filters on snapchat, it allows the viewer to see something different.

How long has it been around?

The first AR technology was developed in 1968 as a head-mounted display system.

In its early days it was clumsy and expensive due to the technology available, meaning it was only suitable for industrial applications. Only large corporations had access to the tools.

The first commercial AR application appeared in 2008. BMW Mini used it for an advertising campaign. The printed magazine would be held up to a computers camera, and using markers on the printed ad allowed the viewer to move around the vehicle.

The application was one of the first marketing campaigns that allowed interaction with a digital model in real time.

Other large corporations incorporated it into marketing campaigns, such as National Geographic, Coca-Cola and Disney. In each of these examples, the AR technology was used to engage customers at events or in public spaces.

Due to the scale of these projects early AR needed considerable investment. In 2015 Skoda ran an advertisement placing an AR mirror in a Victoria railway station in London. People passing by could customize a car and then see themselves driving it on a large screen.


The first fully interactive AR exhibition was launched in December 2017. The Pérez Art Museum, Miami worked with artist Felice Grodin. 

Together they created the first fully augmented reality-powered art exhibition, called ‘Invasive Species’. However unlike modern murals that use painted elements this work was completely digital. It intended to be a full AR experience, conjuring images into an empty space. The installation involved a series of digital images and species. These include eerie 3D models evoking creepy-crawlies, jellyfish or cryptic signs. The exhibition was a comment on the fragility of our ecosystem and the threat of climate change.


In terms of mainstream availability, AR has only been on handheld devices since 2020. The first company to make this technology available was the Apple.

Using programs such as ARKit and RealityKit allowed both desktop and iPhone users to create Augmented Reality environments. Since then companies who specialise in these experiences have allowed them to be more widely used through the use of AR codes. Much like QR codes, they create a link to the mural or product and allow the viewer to interact, and with more advanced phones you no longer need a specific app to take you straight to the experience.

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