Smartify, the “Shazam of the art world” launches at Royal Academy of Arts

25 September 2017

Smartify is a free app that allows you to scan artworks in order to not only identify them but also access instant art commentary on your mobile device. Functioning like a “Shazam for the art world,” the app is already in use in over 30 of the world’s major galleries and museums and launched on Thursday 21 September at the Global Founding Partners Launch Event at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Smartify’s team were inspired by the deeper connections they felt with art where they knew the context and stories the artworks and artefacts. What they created in response is an art guide that “goes beyond audio guides and catalogues, like an enthusiastic and knowledgeable friend available to tell visitors more about the works they are viewing.” As well as providing a pool of instantly accessible information, the app functions across venues and enables users to build a personal collection of their favourite artworks, even alerting them to similar content they might be interested in. This collection can then be shared with a like-minded community of users across the world.

As well as collaborating with museums and galleries, Smartify has teamed up with the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit that supports Wikipedia, in order to utilise Wikipedia’s image gallery to increase the accuracy and speed of its image recognition technology. The introduction of the app provides a new experience for museum-goers, one that brings storytelling and interaction to the forefront, allowing users to form personal opinions and meaningful relationships with artworks. Nick Sharp, Digital Director at the Royal Academy of Arts said “Smartify is a great enhancement to our exhibitions and displays: it seamlessly ties together context, history and the artist’s voice to provide a rich and interactive experience. Our mobile devices can act as notepad, sketchbook, camera and now interactive guide. It’s a wonderful tool for the artists and art-lovers who visit the Royal Academy.”

You can download the app here.


Smartify user scanning Frans Hals’s The Laughing Cavalier (1624) at The Wallace Collection, London, 2017. © Smartify


Smartify app demonstration © Smartify


Smartify user scanning Nathaniel Rackowe’s Black Shed Expanded (2014-2016), part of Sculpture in the City, 2017. © Smartify


Smartify user scanning Paul Emsley’s portrait of HRH The Duchess of Cambridge (2012) at the National Portrait Gallery, London, 2017. © Smartify

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Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.

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