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‘Hacking the Heist’ Replaces Stolen Artworks With AR Versions

An app leverages augmented reality to digitally place stolen paintings back in their frames.

“Through the magic of technology,” writes Sarah Cascone, augmented reality “has done what the FBI couldn’t.”

“Despite the best efforts of the FBI, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is still without some of the gems of its collection, stolen in one of the world’s most infamous art heists back in 1990,” Cascone continues. “But if investigators have fallen short of recovering the works, a local tech company may have discovered the next best thing: using augmented reality to return the lost paintings to the museum—at least virtually.” To read the full article, click here

Developed by Cuseum, Hacking the Heist leverages augmented reality to digitally place some of the stolen art pieces back in their frames.

Here’s how it works,” explains Steve Annear. “When a camera on a smartphone or tablet that’s loaded with the company’s app is aimed at the spaces where the paintings were, the images appear on the screen, as if they were actually on the wall.”

“It’s very seamless in that there are no buttons or complicated interface,” Brendan Ciecko, chief executive and founder of Cuseum, tells Annear. “You’re literally holding up your device and overlaying the paintings that would have previously hung in the frames.”

Read more: An AR App Returns Stolen Gardner Paintings to Their Frames

Read more: Paintings Stolen in America’s Biggest Art Heist Have Returned to Their Frames—Thanks to Augmented Reality

Ciecko tells Swapna Krishna, “Recently, after testing some new prototypes at a local museum and showing my team the results, one of my colleagues suggested the idea of putting the stolen art back in the frames at the Gardner. 

Read more: Museums Are the Best Place to Find Innovation in AR 

“I was psyched to explore this concept further—the opportunity to explore something new, the technological challenge, and the idea of returning something to its rightful home. Additionally, Isabella Stewart Gardner was a true innovator of her time, and what better way to celebrate her pioneering spirit, and return her beloved collection back to its original state, even if only through a digital lens.” To read the full article, click here.

Read more: This Boston Company Uses Augmented Reality to View Artwork Stolen from Gardner Museum

“We hope projects like this inspire people to think of how art and technology intersect, how precious our world’s culture is, and how fortunate we are to have institutions that preserve, protect, and make works available for the public to enjoy.”

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