A new way to go to the museum

Canadian company 3rdi Lab enters the country with an augmented reality application for visitors to the Catavento Museum

By Sérgio Siscaro

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, always said that his goal was to work at the intersection between humanities and technology. The Canadian company 3rdi Lab, specialized in developing technical tools for augmented reality with the support of artificial intelligence, has demonstrated how the union of these two universes can be successful. The company has just launched, together with the Catavento Museum, in São Paulo (SP), an application for cell phones that will allow visitors to access unpublished content about the institution’s collection.

Founded in 2018, 3rdi Lab develops technologies aimed at providing the arts and culture market with tools that allow access to immersive narratives through artificial intelligence. The company is part of Canada Hub, an initiative of the Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada (CCBC) that offers Canadian companies all the conditions to establish themselves in Brazil – from marketing support, through the survey of opportunities and identification of possible business partners, to support in the bureaucratic part, such as the provision of a legal address in the country.

The CEO and founder of 3rdi Lab, Raj Nayak, states that this support was essential for the arrival in Brazil to become reality. “As soon as we started negotiations with the Catavento Museum, they asked us to be registered as a local company in Brazil. Through Canada’s trade commissioners in the country, we were immediately connected to Canada Hub, which registered us locally, provided us with a legal address here in Brazil, and gave us access to market intelligence services, which greatly helped us to become familiar with the business environment here – and to establish ourselves as a company in Brazil,” he says.

According to the executive, the negotiations with Catavento Museum started in July last year. In Canada, 3rdi Lab maintained a project with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia – interrupted due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the volume of visitors. “Canada is also a bit more conservative about introducing innovative tools into museums. This is a bit surprising, since in the past these institutions were more open to the use of technology.”

Immersive Experience

Having already registered a total annual visitation of 38.46 million people to museums in 2018 (a volume that fell to 7 million in 2020, due to the pandemic), Brazil represents a very important business opportunity for companies that, like 3rdi Lab, develop innovative solutions to enrich the experience of their visitors.

Proof of this is the fact that, in São Paulo alone, Canada Hub has identified for the Canadian company institutions that could use its augmented reality technology. They include the State of São Paulo Art Museum (Pinacoteca), the Modern Art Museum (MAM), the Immigration Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum of São Paulo University (MAC/USP) and the Afro Brasil Museum, among others.

Nayak recalls that Brazil is among the countries that raise the most money from the sale of tickets to museums in the world – which makes it a very important market for the tool developed by 3rdi Lab. “We have been talking to other institutions in Brazil, such as the Image and Sound Museum (MIS), Soccer Museum, Portuguese Language Museum, and São Paulo Art Museum (Masp). In September, the Ipiranga Museum will be reopened, and there is a possibility that we can develop something there as well. There is a lot going on in Brazil for us, and the Catavento Museum was an excellent launch for us”, he evaluates.

Bonus material

The augmented reality solution developed by 3rdi Lab for Catavento uses artificial intelligence to recognize the images that are focused by the visitors’ cell phone cameras, providing audios, videos and animations about the different areas of Catavento and the history of the building where it is housed – the historic Industry Palace, built in the early twentieth century and once the headquarters of São Paulo City Hall. In a first stage, content from 13 strategic locations in the museum will be available.

The tool was launched at the end of March, taking advantage of the museum’s 13th anniversary celebrations. Now, all visitors have access to the new technology when buying tickets.