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This new BBC app uses AR to put the Rosetta Stone on your coffee table

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Ever wanted to place some of history's most important artifacts and famous artwork on your kitchen table? Soon you'll be able to thanks to a new AR app from the BBC.

The augmented reality app is launching alongside the new BBC TV series Civilisations that explores art and history from all over the globe. It's the first time the BBC has dabbled in the AR space.

When the show premiers later this year, there will also be an iOS and Android app called Civilisations AR that comes from the Research and Development team at the BBC in collaboration with Nexus Studios. 

Using it, you'll be able to bring items you've seen in the show into your own home to further explore. You'll boot up the app and rotate the globe to find the different exhibits in the countries they were first found, and then you'll import them into any space in your home.

We've had the opportunity to try out the app a little early and can confirm it works well. Once you've loaded an item - say the Rosetta Stone - into your home, you can then scale it depending on how much space you have and walk around it to examine it from every angle.

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The X-ray feature that allows you to see inside some items.

The X-ray feature that allows you to see inside some items.
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This is how items look within the AR experience.

This is how items look within the AR experience.

Some items have audio clips or annotations to help you learn about the object too. There's also a feature called X-ray that allows you to either see inside of an object, which means you can see inside a sarcophagus to see the Egyptian mummy above.

Throughout the series more and more artifacts will be uploaded to the app to allow you to further educate yourself about the topics in the show.

By the end, the Civilisations AR app will include scans from over 30 museums around the UK, meaning you'll be able to expand your knowledge on items including Rodin's The Kiss bronze statue, The Umbrian Madonna and Child plus many more.

An exact release date for the app has yet to be revealed, but it will debut alongside the TV series when it lands later this year. A BBC spokesperson has also confirmed to TechRadar it plans to make the app available in other markets other than the UK, but that may be subject to change.

James Peckham
James Peckham

James is Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He's currently most excited about the Samsung Galaxy S22, God of War: Ragnarok and the rumored foldable iPhone.