Context Matters

When doing web application development, we’re often looking to provide users with context in a natural way to make it easy for them to understand and interact with an interface. Context tends to make everything easier to understand. For the latest version of our Art Thief app, we did just the opposite. We brought the interface to the context! What the heck does that mean? Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Zurka is using augmented reality (AR) to bring ratings that users have assigned to art into the real-world gallery where the art is hanging. The user points the camera on his or her phone or iPad at the artwork, and virtual stars show the ratings assigned by that user. On top of that, the user can tap on those virtual ratings to adjust them.

In the video below, you can see that the app uses image recognition to identify the various artwork as well as AR to stick the ratings on top of the art. Notice that as the camera moves around the room, the ratings remain attached to whichever artwork they’re associated with. Are we allowed to call this magical? It sure feels that way when you use it.


This barely scratches the surface of what could be done when you bring data and a user interface into a real-world context. We have a handful of ideas and would really like to hear yours.