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devices, and using their positioning potential. In the first case, providing informational
resources and tour guidance leads to increased freedom for visitors.Visitors are freed to
follow the route of their choice, and to consult the guide according to their personal
needs.
141
Presenting informational resources on the collection may now be better organ-
ised in ways that suit specific visitors' requirements and/or special needs. In addition to
this, the function of `bookmarking' interesting objects for later exploration contributes
greatly towards enhancing the learning process.
Using the positioning potential of mobile access technology, on the other hand, will
further improve the delivery of informational resources to the visitor by taking his or her
exact location into account.This helps in offering guidance through exhibits, both indoor
and outdoor, and marks a shift from mobile access into the beginnings of augmented
reality.
142
The visitor is thus able to receive additional information automatically depending
on location, rather than by having to make explicit requests.
A number of organisations in the cultural heritage sector already utilise the communi-
cation potential of mobile access technologies.This work may be viewed as a natural fur-
ther extension or development of the work carried out with audio guides, particularly
when these are used in conjunction with positioning devices.While information resources
are delivered concurrently with the visiting of collections, one concern is that the use of
handheld devices may distract visitors from really observing the objects in an exposition,
or may isolate them from other visitors.
The sharing of experiences within a museum or gallery is a strong social component,
and it is important that this should not be lost. Such warnings are important, but the use
of handheld devices is already so popular that how best to incorporate them into the cur-
rent practices has become a major issue. Museum visits are far from being the only daily
activity changed by these new technologies. MOBIlearn, for example, aims to create
models for effective learning
in a mobile environment,
together with instructional
design and eLearning content
development for mobile
learning.
143
Research on the take-up of
new technologies in museums
has so far been encouraging. A
survey on digital technologies
in general offered to visitors
of art museums is published in
[Schwartzer 2001 (full ref. on
page 198)].The survey was mailed to 169 museums, seventy-four of which responded, and
sixty per cent of these were using digital technologies. Fifty-three per cent of these insti-
tutions gathered visitor comments, all of them positive.
Mobile Access to
Cultural Information
99
141 The PAST project (http://www.beta80group.it/past/) is an excellent example of the non-intrusive,
augmentative use of handhelds in the exploration of outdoor archaeological sites.
142 The overlap between mobile/ambient computing and mixed reality is pronounced. See the Augurscope
(http://www.shape-dc.org/highlights/augur.html) and ARCHEOGUIDE (http://archeoguide.intranet.gr)
projects for demonstrations of the possibilities.
143 http://www.mobilearn.org
MOBIlear
n
Synchronising a handheld and laptop
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