News Releases

Smithsonian Brings Historic Specimens to Life in Free “Skin and Bones” Mobile App

January 13, 2015

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History released a new mobile app “Skin and Bones” Jan. 13. The free app is available for download in the App Store and reinvents how visitors to the museum can experience select specimens on view in its historic “Bone Hall,” an exhibit of almost 300 vertebrate skeletons. In the app, 13 different skeletons on display come to life through the advanced technologies of 3-D augmented reality and 3-D tracking. The app adds details to many of the specimens to show how they move or look in life or how their skeletons work.  

“This app is all about sharing some of the untold stories behind one of the museum’s most iconic collections,” said Robert Costello, the Museum of Natural History’s national outreach program manager and producer of the app. “From vampire bats to a 150-pound Mississippi catfish, ‘Skin and Bones’ highlights specimens across the tree of vertebrate life and invites visitors to interact with them in surprising ways.”

After installing the app on their mobile devices, users simply choose the animal they are interested in from a map of the hall. Each animal choice has a menu of immersive audiovisual experiences, including videos, animations and activities. When users choose a menu item marked with ‘AR,’ they direct their cameras at the specimen and the augmented reality triggers 3-D graphics. Visitors can watch an eastern diamondback rattlesnake skull sink its long fangs into a virtual rodent or play a game that challenges them to identify bat species by their calls. Other videos explain ideas in ecology, biogeography, functional anatomy and evolution or introduce Smithsonian scientists. Free Wi-Fi in the “Bone Hall” will allow visitors to seamlessly experiment with each of these features.

“Skin and Bones” took two years to develop and was made possible with a grant from Booz Allen Hamilton. The 3-D modeling work took place at the museum. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was instrumental in developing the supporting animations.

Few museum exhibits in the world have survived across three centuries or have been gazed upon by tens of millions of visitors. The “Bone Hall” is one of them, a grand comparative anatomy exhibit that opened the Smithsonian’s first museum in 1881.

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SI-11-2015

Media only              
Kathryn Sabella         
(202) 633-2950 
sabellak@si.edu

Ryan Lavery 
(202) 633-2950 
laveryr@si.edu

Related photos: 

Skin and Bones: Anhinga

Office of Education & Outreach, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History

In this animation of a bird skeleton, the “Skin and Bones” mobile app shows viewers how a hungry Anhinga accelerates its long neck forward to spear unsuspecting prey. On Jan. 13, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History released the free app, which is available for download in the App Store.

Related photos: 

Skin and Bones: Mandrill

Office of Education & Outreach, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History

Augmented reality features in the “Skin and Bones” mobile app transform a mandrill skeleton into a lifelike primate, colorful snout and all. On Jan. 13, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History released the free app, which is available for download in the App Store.

Related photos: 

Skin and Bones: Osteology Hall

Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution

Thirteen different skeletons on display in the “Bone Hall” come to life in the “Skin and Bones” mobile app through the advanced technologies of 3-D Augmented Reality and 3-D tracking. On Jan. 13, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History released the free app, which is available for download in the App Store.

Related photos: 

Skin and Bones: Splash Screen

Office of Education & Outreach, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History

This splash screen welcomes digital users to the “Skin and Bones” mobile app and invites them to rediscover how select specimens on view in the Smithsonian’s historic “Bone Hall” look, move and function in life. On Jan. 13, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History released the free app, which is available for download in the App Store.

Related photos: 

Skin and Bones: Vampire bat

Office of Education & Outreach, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History

After installing the “Skin and Bones” app on their mobile devices, users simply choose the animal they are interested in and pick from a menu of immersive audiovisual experiences, including 3-D augmented reality (AR), videos and activities. On Jan. 13, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History released the free app, which is available for download in the App Store.



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