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Nigel Linge (Salford University) mi-Guide: a location based visitor guide

mi-Guide: Part of an ongoing public engagement project funded by the EPSRC. Nigel focused primarily here on what was done with the Museum of Science and Industry, who were creating a new gallery focused on communications. Context-awareness research carried out to see if information could be tailored to visitors based on who they are (e.g. adult/child, teacher/pupil). Ideally wanted to observe where they were and where they had been within the museum – descriptions of objects they were looking at were based on where they had been, as well as where they currently were. Decided to supply hand-held PDA technology within the gallery, and to use multi-media to add dimensions to objects being looked at; wish to create a personalised experience. Feedback from people suggested that they preferred to be in control of the information they would receive at certain points, rather than have it pushed onto them. Can track the visitors and provide feedback about the popularity of each site, how long people spent there etc.

GPS signals often too weak to penetrate buildings, don’t always work well indoors. Issues of granularity for indoor museums – distance between points of interest very short, technology can’t always guarantee perfect accuracy of location. Went for passive RFID tag solution, which requires the visitor to scan an object using a handheld PDA - the server then scans the content back to the PDA. Provides different options about what you would like to know about an exhibit (Nigel demonstrated the interface). Can pause, rewind the videos streamed etc.

Gallery idea also extended as a Key Stage 3 and 4 educational package – four themed tours for school groups within the gallery to support this; can be guided through the gallery for individual activities. Button introduced called “Where am I?” displaying a map, telling such groups where they should go next within the gallery for these individual activities.

Want to be able to put as much of this content onto the individual’s technology (mobile phone) rather than museum PDA, via use of QR codes rather than RFID tags located in the gallery (Nigel demonstrated how this works using his mobile phone). All web-based content rather than an application. There is a also mi-Guide online version.