Emerging Technologies in the Arts


Last week, AMT Lab was thrilled to present a session at the National Arts Marketing Project Conference. In line with the conference's theme of fueling change, AMT Lab travelled to Austin, Texas to share research about the use of augmented reality, RFID and beacons in the arts. Most of these technologies aren't very expensive anymore, so they are in reach for your arts organization if you want them to be. If you missed our session or want a refresher, here are our key takeaways:


  • Not every emerging technology is going to be right for every arts organization. You have to evaluate each of these and ask yourself if they would be a good fit for you. If you have to force them, they probably aren’t right for your organization.

  • Before you start worrying about emerging technologies, you should be mastering some other technologies first. We provided this infographic checklist in our session. Feel free to print off a copy and use it for yourself!


  • Unlike virtual reality, which provides an entire artificial environment, AR makes use of the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it. It blurs the line between reality and computer-generated information by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell.

  • AR applications for smartphones usually include GPS (Global Positioning System) to pinpoint user’s locations and detect device orientation by using the compass.

  • For museums, AR has become a novel medium that offers new layers of interpretation to collections. Museums can either develop AR apps by themselves, or make use of free AR apps developed by technology companies (e.g. Layar, Aurasma) in their exhibitions.


  • There is the potential to use RFID for “special privileges” for subscribers/members. If your organization isn’t ready to jump in completely with this technology, start out by allowing your most loyal constituents to skip the lines and walk right to their seats.

  • Using RFID technology provides a great solution for “cashless” systems. If your organization is tired of the long lines, look into how RFID can help you achieve hassle-free purchase systems in your museums and theaters.

  • Because each RFID tag has a unique user ID, this technology integrates well with CRMs and ticketing systems. This technology may also be be used for patrons to see more detailed information about an exhibit or performance piece immediately on a reader or later at home


  • Beacons themselves are not very expensive (ranging from $12 - $35 each).  However, the software that manages the content displayed on the app is the true cost, including maintenance.

  • Beacons can not only deliver information about objects or programs, but can be used for intermission activities or marketing messages in geographically specific spaces. For example, “don’t forget to become a member before you leave” or “$10 off your membership today” or “Thirsty? The coffee shop is around the corner to your left”