Here’s what happens when art and technology pair up

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Here’s what happens when art and technology pair up

This year the painted Muskoka chairs lining Collingwood’s sidewalks will shine as beacons for residents and visitors.

Virtual beacons, that is.

Local tech company, Smash Reality, approached the Downtown Collingwood BIA to add a little tech to the annual Art on the Street event which runs from May 19 to October 6. The art is hand-painted Muskoka chairs, done by various local artists. This year’s theme is Collingwood history.

Smash Reality has installed beacon technology on loan for each of the art chairs.

“Beacon technology is the Internet of things,” said Aprile Morwood, project manager at Smash Reality.

Beacons use Bluetooth low-energy wireless technology to pinpoint the location of people in a small area and deliver messages to their mobile devices.

Smart phone users that have enabled beacon technology on their devices will get a notification on their phone when they are nearby a painted chair. The message that pops up from the beacon is a photo of the chair, information on the historic image depicted and details on the artist who painted it. There’s also a button that will take the smart phone user to the art on the street website.   

Beacon technology is small and weather-resistant.

Smash Reality’s Rutul Patel was the lead developer on the Art on the Street beacon website and the beacon tech installation and interaction programs.

Part of the reason Smash Reality got involved with the Art on the Street program is because one of their employees, Carrie Bloomfield, was selected as a chair artist. She painted the chair depicting an image of the Huronic, a ship built in Collingwood.

“A lot of local businesses help keep Art on the Street going,” said Morwood. “We’re new and we like to do some charity work when we can.”

To use the beacon technology, download an application called The Physical Web by Bleesk. By activating that application, your phone will automatically connect with the beacon technology as you pass by the chair.

For more on Art on the Street and the beacon technology, click here.

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