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Mobile Access to
Cultural Information
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experienced a shared visit. In this respect, they believe that mixed reality environments
may have immediate benefits in two interrelated areas of museum practice: accessibility of
collections and educational activities. Mixed reality museum visits, for example, may enhance
communication and collaboration among remote school groups and offer access to
communities otherwise disenfranchised because of geographical or other barriers.
Current research, in the second phase of the City project, aims at combining synchro-
nous encounters among participants with asynchronous interaction. Users might use this
to show their friends where they have been and what they have done. In more general
terms it enables them to use the past as a resource for the present visit.Visiting and tourist
activity in the city streets and other urban spaces is also supported.This work is informed
by the way that museum experiences extend beyond the time, the people, the media and
the place of the `official' visit, to the visitor's everyday life and to the city as a whole.The
team's belief is that this is in accord with contemporary cultural institutions' work towards
becoming more effectively integrated with the activities that tourists and visitors actually
engage in, and also reflects their view that museums are best seen not as isolated or insular,
but as being connected with and contributing to city life.
CIMI Handscape Mobile Computing in Museums
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Handscape, a three-year CIMI Consortium
167
project to investigate potential use cases
for mobile computing in museums, began in 2001.The overall objective is to investigate
how visitors can be affected before, during and after the museum visit, and the resulting
impact on the design of such services.
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The project is directed and managed by John
Perkins of CIMI, and its research co-ordinated by Professor Geri Gay, Director of the
Human Computer Interaction Group at Cornell University.
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The Field Museum
(Chicago), The Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew, England), and the American Museum
of the Moving Image
(New York)
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are partners in phase one.They will be joined in
later phases by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University and the
Smithsonian American Art Museum
.The project's $250,000 (
212,500) budget is
supported by a research grant from Intel Corporation.
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The Handscape project investigates two hypotheses. First, it is examining whether
mobile technologies offer museums an opportunity to alter how they relate to and com-
municate with their visitors. Second, it aims to establish whether new applications and
services designed for these devices can, by using the information resources of the museum,
positively enhance the visitor experience.The project is concerned with the design of
systems through the identification of cases in which the use of a mobile device coupled
with an appropriate design for delivery of information works in tandem to deliver the
desired experience. Phase one research focused on prototype installations at each of the
partner institutions.Technologies employed varied and their selection was driven by the
166 This case study is based on an e-mail questionnaire completed by project co-ordinator John Perkins of
CIMI
, Angela Spinazze of ATSPIN consulting, and research co-ordinator Professor Geri Gay, Director of
the Human Computer Interaction Group at Cornell University.The case study process was carried out
in November/December 2003.The Handscape project Web site can be accessed at
http://www.cimi.org/wg/handscape/index.html. For more on Handscape, see Angela Spinazze's article
"Handscape: Investigating Mobile Computing in Museums", DigiCULT.Info 3, February 2003.
167 http://www.cimi.org
168 http://www.museum.cornell.edu; http://www.nmaa.si.edu
169 http://www.hci.cornell.edu
170 http://www.fmnh.org; http://www.rbgkew.org.uk; http://www.ammi.org/site/site.asp
171 http://www.intel.com
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