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Museum Tech 2016: Emerging Trends in Online Learning

My first experience of interactive tech in a museum dates back to the mid-nineties when touch screen kiosks were new and demonstrated real technical innovation. It didn’t matter that the content was often little more than a glorified PowerPoint Presentation, what was important was that it was fresh, it put control into the hands of the visitor, and ultimately held attention longer than static exhibits.

As time passed and visitors became familiar with the technology, engagement with these exhibits decreased – and users began to seek more exciting and vivid experiences. I’ve seen this pattern repeat in many areas of technology innovation and it’s a good thing.

To keep user engagement at optimum levels, continued innovation is key. So, with that in mind what were the innovations that stood out at Museum Tech 2016 that will be the next drivers of engagement? Below are my favourite concepts, innovations and themes that I think can make a difference in the museum sector…

 

1 – 3D visualisation

At the high end (fantastic but expensive!) of 3D data capture and visualisation was David Hughes from Interspectral who demonstrated their touch based interactive table allowing visitors to look inside a Mummy’s sarcophagus by capturing data using a CT scanner. I’m sure this experience remained in the minds of most visitors long after the event – it definitely stuck with me.

The importance of 3D in the coming years cannot be underestimated. Although the process of capturing and sharing collections’ objects online sounds expensive, there are very cheap, good alternatives – including software that can transform 2D digital images into fully formed and dynamic 3D digital models using only a smartphone or cheap digital camera! The leading software seems to be ‘Photoscan’ which is extremely powerful and fairly easy to learn. Although the free demo won’t let you save anything it will give you a very good understanding of what you would be able to achieve with the $179 standard software. The captured models can even be printed out using 3D printers.

 

2 – Location aware devices

I’m a big fan of location awareness within apps and online experiences – the value this adds to the user can be very significant.

A typical phone’s location accuracy depends on a number of factors around the technology available on the phone. Below is a rough guide as to how accurate (or not) this can be on a 3G iPhone:

  • GPS: within 8 meters
  • WiFi: within 74 meters
  • Cellular positioning: within 600 meters

Within a building these distances are of little use. Devices such as ‘Beacons’ (small devices working on Bluetooth) offer greater utility, narrowing the phone’s location down to within a couple of meters. Beacons can be integrated with apps to trigger animations, interaction, sounds or videos on the user’s device, all of which add layers of engagement to otherwise static exhibits. But the opportunity for innovation here is massive and very exciting, for example if visitors were given Beacons to keep on them during their visit, which would trigger the exhibit to respond to the user when approached.

 

3 – Linking collections material with online

Chris Stevens from Extensis demonstrated their Digital Asset Management solution. While it’s not a collections management tool, it’s a great way to store and tag all digital assets you have. One reason for using such a tool is that it allows web developers to pull content dynamically into a website, meaning your website will always be up to date and you only need to edit images, tags, descriptions etc. in one place. As websites are now moving towards providing more visual experiences, large, high quality images and video are more important than ever.

 

In summary

There are currently really exiting innovations in technology and 2016 promises great things. The show proves it’s important to keep abreast of trend, but the leading edge need not be prohibitively expensive – often these innovations can be reached within achievable budgets.

Be brave, innovate!

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by RobYorke
5 Feb 2016

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Museums and Heritage awards 2010

We fended offstrong competition from three other cultural institutions across the country,including the Natural History Museum and English Heritage, with our Timeline:Sources from History project. (more…)

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by admintdla
5 Jul 2010

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Exploring history with The British Library

Events in timelines can be compared against one another to give great insight and answer questions such as ‘who was in government when Queen Victoria came to the throne?’ (more…)

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by admintdla
2 Feb 2010

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Making the community a part of Leeds Art Galleries

The online project is a place where you can interact with others, a big artwork you can add a bit to yourself. Leeds Art Gallery wanted to encourage people go out into their local areas and take pictures they consider to be thought-provoking and an interpretation of what’s on show within the gallery.

The website gives everyone the freedom to upload their photos and images to the interactive community gallery and write adescription of what their picture means to them. Anyone can access the website and images are displayed in the gallery on a 50′ plasma screen.

Articles by the gallery on gallery works are being added on a regular bases with users leaveing comments on each. The vision is for the project is that it continues to grow organically reaching out further into the surrounding area.

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by admintdla
21 Apr 2009

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Creating an interactive timeline through history for the British Library

The project in its purest form is an interactive timeline, which is built and designed by our experienced team to give visitors to the website a chronological understanding of world history.

We’re delighted to be the Agency chosen to develop this exciting project and are confident that it will meet the needs of the History National Curriculum and be a major resource for key stage 3 & 4 students and history teachers.

The finished application will be built using Adobe Flash technology featuring a visually rich 3D environment and look more televisual rather than web based. It will be easy to use and give people access to content they would usually have to spend hours searching for.

The library will have complete control over the content and the flexibility to add, edit and remove timelines as the need to using their existing content management system.

The potential for this interactive timeline model to be used to house information for many other subjects is enormous and one the British Library is keen to explore in time.

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by admintdla
21 Apr 2009