Week 7: Augmented Reality

There is no denying of the continuing prevalence of technology installed in museums worldwide, even if the degree and types of technological utilization vary greatly from one museum to another. The problem, however, lies with the success of these museums in achieving their mission statements. With increasing availability of resources and innovations, museums can start conjuring up new ways and methods to attract more patrons, enrich their experience, collaborate with communities, and steady their position as a cultural institution. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they should all the time. I have seen museums incorporate technology in a favorable way, but I have also seen museums dump technology into exhibitions that distracts the viewers instead of supplementing the intended experience. Museums should really consider the ways technology can be appropriately implemented and carefully study the impact it has on the patron’s experience.

In the article “Data-driven enriched exhibits using augmented reality” by Warren et al., the authors discuss the ways museums can add “context or content, via audio/visual means, to the current physical space of a visitor to a museum or outdoor site,” which they define it as augmented reality. By drawing information from the data about the location of the artifacts, related events, and visitor behavior, there is a possibility of incorporating technology in a better and more useful way reducing what they call “visitor fatigue”.

The goal is to create links between the visitor’s immediate surroundings, as affected by his or her actions, and information held by the museum.

An example would be creating conversational noises in the background for specific exhibits to create resonance around the objects and place the visitors in a surrounding that reflects the historical context of the objects and the era of interest. Another example would be the sound of Morse codes when a sensor detects a visitor engaging with an object from wartime. According to the authors, all of this would be possible by, first, identifying the interaction points; second, detecting visitor action with the interaction points and the objects; third, mapping the interaction point to the object, which allows for personal and customizable experience for each visitor. An interesting case study would be the Anne Frank House, where it utilizes environmental noises and other audio/visual means to link the visitors to Anne Frank’s experience. If museums can create such a data-driven augmented reality in order to enhance the museum visitor’s experience, technology wouldn’t feel so out of place in an exhibit. Through smart implementation coupled with museum’s data, technology can evoke the intended emotions and guide the patrons toward a more cohesive understanding of the object.

3 thoughts on “Week 7: Augmented Reality”

  1. I really love your ideas about how technology can be seamlessly incorporated into museums. Going off your Anne Frank example, I find that history museums really do technology right: taking voices and sound effects and even sometimes animatronics to create an authentic-feeling experience of the time period. The best example of this that comes to my mind is, embarrassingly, the Pirates of The Caribbean ride at Disney World, which is admittedly not art, but through the ride one really feels like they have been transported into Jack Sparrow’s world. I wonder how art museums could do the same. Maybe an interactive exhibit of a famous painter’s studio?

  2. I like how you talk about the inclusion of museum data into the exhibit experience. With all the metadata collected from museums, I feel like museums collect all this data, but the actual utility of it can be questionable. By using the data collected about how patrons interact with their exhibits museums can create a more immersive space for patrons to enjoy. Some of the best museum experiences I’ve had have involved spaces where technology was used to enhance the experience for example at a natural history museum, visitors could select whale calls as they looked onto an exhibit on whales, which was enjoyable for both parents and children.

  3. I think you made some good commentary on how the key feature of this technology is to be seamless. I think that when we start to use technology like an extensions of ourselves we can think less about the technology in front of us and focus on the experiences at hand. I think that as more data becomes available and we start to take better data, we museums will further be able to cater to the needs to museum visitors leading to more engagement. Your discussion of interaction points highlights that people are thinking about when technology is appropriate and enhances an experience and when it is not needed and hence there is no need for an interaction point.

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