Smart Art

City of Sydney



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The City of Sydney Art Program increases awareness of the cultural layer within Sydney’s City and aims to raise the profile of Public Art. The Sydney Art Program is widely known for its contribution of art around Sydney and to support this vision, the City of Sydney engaged BrandCulture to explore the use of proximity wayfinding technologies (iBeacon/Bluetooth LE), QR codes and NFC, and how they could be used to augment and enrich this cultural experience. The technology enables the public to become aware of art pieces all across the City. The prototype was installed at the latest high profile art Installation in Hyde Park, Sydney called Yininmadyemi ‘Thou dids’t let fall’, by Artist Tony Albert.


The first of its kind, this project required the collaboration of BrandCulture, Meld Strategies and the City of Sydney design team to incorporate proximity beacons across Hyde Park to deliver location specific content to users of the Culture Walks app currently in circulation with 40,000+ users. BrandCulture and Meld had worked together during 2013-14 for the University of Technology Sydney, to deliver the wayfinding technology masterplan.

Meld worked closely with BrandCulture to determine the best use of location-based technologies to enable digital wayfinding and information services for the City Art program. The strategies for implementation and trial would measure the effectiveness to guide future development of this technology in the City Art Program.

The technologies needed to create a unique visitor experience throughout the park. BrandCulture were briefed to deliver a combination of graphic design, technical drawings, fabrication documentation, specification of materials and finishes, and were required to manage the fabrication and installation. The experience was designed empathetically to the local environment and materials so it could accommodate the technology in a tasteful and subtle enclosure.


The City of Sydney, Smart Art trial required a modern, contemporary solution to integrate art, physical signage and digital technology with a smart phone app experience. The art installation in Hyde Park, Sydney called Yininmadyemi, by Artist Tony Albert, was officially opened on March 31 2015. The use of iBeacon technology and how people will use it to engage with the Culture Walks app was on trial.

A customer journey was created and several locations were identified around the perimeter to enhance the journey. Using small battery powered ‘beacons’ concealed around the environment including the Art plaque. iBeacon technology enables a location-specific bluetooth low energy signal to be detected by a mobile app, the app sends push notifications to a smart phone screen to direct users to a location or to ‘context specific’ information about the artwork. It was possible to know exactly where visitors were in relation to the artwork, allowing delivery of specific content such as audio narration describing the art. It is planned for this technology and a new style of plaque, plinth and beacons to be installed across the city at over 250 sculptures.

The plaque itself included simplifying the amount of information, reducing the size and designing an elegant non intrusive structural form which was finished with traditional bronzing techniques, provided by Cunneen Signage. Another component to this project was the introduction of temporary pavement marker; this is used to direct visitors across the park to the sculpture and with a QR code integration to promote the new technology, encourages visitors to link to an app to download the page.


The NFC and QR technology gives access to digital content effortlessly, negating the need for printed pamphlets. These codes are accessed with a single scan or tap as you go and the information appears on smartphones instantly. The major advantage of NFC is its flexibility; storing information and changing it is possible without creating a new NFC tag. Content can be changed instantly from the tag without having to endlessly re-print, use large amounts of paper nor create litter. The tag and reader communicate with each other to complete complex transactions quickly and securely. Digital content is instantly updatable and the costs are far lower than printing. Especially regarding the beacon maintenance, replacement or calculating the device ID, dwelling times and heat map of popular stops, this data can be analysed to determine how to refine the experience design without reproducing any of the physical elements.


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