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of practice.The physical discovery and exploration of artefacts is attractive, and the col-
laborations and discussions between participants are essential characteristics of the archae-
ological experience, together with the excitement felt when an object is uncovered.This
excitement comes not only from the initial excavation of objects, but also from a sense of
`intimate' discovery of artefacts from the past. As it is usually not possible for the general
public to touch or handle such rare objects, the project's challenge was to determine how
best to simulate these aspects using information technology.
The project team had the initial idea of using archaeology as a collaborative quest
activity in order to enhance the visitor experience in the actual physical setting of the
museum, allowing a game-like atmosphere to emerge. In Nottingham Castle, visitors
explored the castle grounds looking for clues and evidence of the past.These clues
appeared as pieces of paper and were used to interact with different types of displays pro-
viding the users with more information.These include:
- Underground torches, used to trigger atmospheric sounds and to `explore' events that
occurred in the immediate vicinity;
- A `storytent', a tent-shaped display, comparable to a virtual reality CAVE.Visitors sit
inside and immerse themselves in three-dimensional scenes from the past;
- A `sandpit', a floor-projection which allows users to sift through simulated sand and
uncover images of the castle's history.
The experiment was very popular with visitors, and the project partners now hope to
develop the hybrid reality archaeological scenario further with the inclusion of hybrid
physical-digital objects incorporating embedded RFID smart tags, thus adding another
layer of interactivity and collaboration to the learning and discovery experience.
Scenario I Planning Museum Exhibitions for Children
A museum is looking for different ways to make its collections more engaging for
younger visitors. It offers several rooms for play and study with various sections, including:
- A giant construction table where different mechanisms can be put together. Parts of
the models are taken from the museum collection, and children can see them before
beginning work on their own versions;
- A section for young builders, offering builder boards to construct objects which are
big enough to play inside. As additional fun, children can use replicas of objects from
the museum and discover their use under the guidance of a member of staff;
- A design studio where children can design their own models and inventions using
traditional drafting tools. Replicas of costumes from the museum collections are
available to the children;
- A traditional learning room.
The staff at the centre expressed satisfaction with the growing number of families vis-
iting the museum with their children, but they believe that offering more computer
technologies in the play centre would attract even greater interest.They decided to pur-
chase a touchscreen for use specifically in the children's area.The museum already uses
multimedia kiosks, but the multimedia program used in the museum halls is not appro-
priate for use by very young children.The mechanical construction area was chosen for
the new service as it features the most references to the museum collection.The muse-
Human Interfaces