Emily Carr Image Recognition App – Activating Emily

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) is an adored little gallery located on the Garry Oak-lined streets of the Fernwood neighborhood. The AGGV had a custom-built iOS app that used image recognition to provide a more engaging experience for their world-renowned, permanent Emily Carr collection. The app had served the public well, but needed to be rewritten as a “native” app in order to meet the needs and expectations of modern phones. Our application development team were more than happy to tackle this project and upgrade the software foundation, source code and experience.

The Challenge

The AGGV were relying on a 3rd-party web-based solution to deliver the image recognition functionality within the mobile app, and the investment towards the upkeep and support were becoming cost inhibitive. We have a great relationship with the Art Gallery, so they approached us to ask whether we could implement an on-device image recognition solution.

The Solution

Caorda’s app development team, led by Lance Hesketh, tackled the requirements and unique needs of the application, then devised a technology plan to rebuild the software using Swift, a modern, first-class language available to iOS developers. This platform rebuild allowed the updated application to seamlessly hook into the vast library of features available on the iPhone. Additionally, Apple’s Core ML technology (which provides on-device AI functionality for tasks like image recognition) has only been available since 2017 – after the original app was built – so we had some incredible new tools available to us with the updated version. This new technology allowed the app to exploit some rich AI and machine learning in order to really enhance the user experience.

To start using the app’s image-recognition features, the user points his iPhone camera at specially marked paintings in the gallery and snaps a picture. The app recognizes the painting and provides the user with an enriched experience, with additional information about the painting and – depending upon the work – a unique perspective from another artist.

We really enjoyed working on this project and were thrilled to use it ourselves when we visited the Art Gallery.

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