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Mobile Access to
Cultural Information
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approaches.The specific technologies were also selected/devel-
oped following a literature review because they fitted with the
technological research questions being asked by the project,
and equipment donations from Hewlett Packard's Art and
Science Programme. In the project's early stages, the team looked
into the possible use of wearable computers, such as a
University of Bristol `cyberjacket' for on-site visitors. At this
stage the team decided not to pursue this line of investigation.
Initial visitor studies found that museum visitors often leave
their outdoor coats or jackets in the cloakroom, and
researchers felt that it would be awkward to ask people to don
an extra jacket. It was also felt that a cyberjacket would impose
an additional challenge on efforts to evaluate the system in
naturalistic manner.
Among the project's main goals was the exploration of
mixed reality technologies and the social interactions that these might create. In this
respect the City project's implementation has proved very successful; the project team was
pleasantly surprised that participants in the trials were easily immersed in their museum
experience without being distracted by the prototype character of the technology.
Participants were recruited through poster advertisements as friends and museum-goers,
with a total of thirty-four (ten groups of three and two groups of two) taking part. Each
visiting experience lasted approximately one hour and comprised an explorative part and
an activity-based part. In the first part, the members of each group were encouraged to
familiarise themselves with the technology and to explore the gallery according to their
own interests. In the second part, they were given a mixture of open-ended and focused
questions about Mackintosh's work, and were asked to come up with answers based on
evidence from or experience of the exhibition.The group's activity and discussions were
recorded, and a semi-structured interview followed each visit. Analysis of the data was
qualitative, and looked at both usability and interactional aspects of use. In the trials no
category of visitor became dominant; they acted in a complementary rather than a hierar-
chical relationship. For further studies and uses of this type of technology, this conclusion
indicates that virtual and physical visitors can be integrated into seamless social visitor
communities.
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For the mobile aspect, centimetre accuracy in the Mack Room was not necessary, as
participants were able to adapt to cruder levels of accuracy appropriate to the scale of dis-
plays and objects. Similarly, exact symmetry of content provision between the three `visit
types' turned out to be unnecessary: while strong overlap is required, a degree of variation
appropriate to the tools at hand creates differences in the views that facilitate communica-
tion between the visitors.
The richness and topical coherence of visitors' interaction with each other and with
the exhibition form the basis of the team's claim that local and remote museum visitors
EQ
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The Mack Room floor plan on a
Pocket PC
165 Results of the evaluation and tests can be found in: Brown, B., MacColl, I., Chalmers, M., Galani, A.,
Randell, C. and Steed, A. (2003), "Lessons from The Lighthouse: collaboration in a shared mixed reality
system", in Proceedings of CHI2003, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. ACM Press, pp. 577-584; Galani, A. and
Chalmers, M. (2003), "Far away is close at hand: shared mixed reality museum experiences for local and
remote museum companions", in Proceedings of ICHIM03, Paris, France; MacColl, I., Millard, D., Randell, C.,
Steed, A. et al. (2002), "Shared visiting in EQUATOR city", in Proceedings of Collaborative Virtual
Environments 2002. ACM Press, pp. 88-94.
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