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Mobile Access to
Cultural Information
104
The project started in March 2001, and
the first phase, concentrating mainly on
museums, concluded in autumn 2002.
160
Five universities collaborated in the first
phase: the University of Glasgow,
University of Nottingham
, University
of Bristol
, University College London
and the University of Southampton.
Glasgow took the lead role, with responsi-
bilities covering initial visitor studies, the
final integration, and the evaluation of the
system.The local project partner was the
Lighthouse Centre for Architecture,
Design and the City
, situated in the heart of Glasgow.
161
The system combines virtual environments (VEs), hypermedia technology, handheld
devices and ultrasound tracking technology. Equator's shared tuple space infrastructure,
EQUIP, co-ordinates the components.
162
For system trials, a custom-made ultrasound
location system from the University of Bristol was put in place in the Lighthouse's
Mackintosh Interpretation Centre (the `Mack Room', dedicated to the understanding of the
work of Scottish architect, designer and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh),
163
and a wire-
less communications network installed in the Lighthouse.This allows three visitors, one
on-site and two remote, to visit the Mack Room simultaneously.The on-site visitor carries
a location-aware handheld computer which displays the ongoing positions of all three
visitors on a map of the gallery.The off-site visitors use two different environments: a
Web-only environment and a VE. The Web visitor uses a standard Web browser that
displays the gallery map, while the VE visitor uses a first-person, 3D model of the same
gallery with avatars representing the other visitors. All three visitors share an open audio
channel, and wear headphones and microphones.The system supports the provision of
multimedia information to off-site visitors in the form of Web pages that are dynamically
presented upon movement in the map or VE. Content delivered to the off-site visitors is
similar to the content available in the labels in the gallery. This automatic presentation
follows the spatial organisation of the exhibition schematically, so that all visitors can
`look' at the same display while in the same location. In this respect the system supports
interaction around corresponding exhibits in the Mack Room and in digital form, or
`hybrid exhibits'.
164
A prototype system was developed for a trialling period in the
Lighthouse, but this has not been installed in an institution for long-term use.The City
project aims to demonstrate the viability of the concepts it was investigating, and to
produce the theoretical and methodological breakthroughs necessary for others to be able
to deliver permanent applications.
As is often the case with collaborative research projects, technology choices for the
system were based on the partners' expertise and experience with similar systems and
160 The overall budget is undefined, as this was set in a wider collaborative context. Essentially, the project was
self-sufficient.
161 http://www.thelighthouse.co.uk
162 For more on this, see MacColl et al. (2002), "Shared visiting in EQUATOR city", in Proceedings of
Collaborative Virtual Environments 2002, ACM Press, pp. 88-94.
163 The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, http://www.crmsociety.com/
164 For more details on this concept, see Brown et al. (2003) in the list of publications on page 196.
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Different approaches to content in the City project
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