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depth background information about them should she wish to pursue her learning fur-
ther. Details of the objects that are of interest to particular demographic cross-sections
can be collated in the database, or in a separate resource dedicated to storing and manag-
ing this information.
The smart card is cheap, durable and reusable, and on repeat visits the cardholder can
receive suggestions about and directions towards previously unviewed objects that other
visitors have `collected', the assumption being that they may be of interest, too.The use
of RFID technology thus enhances the learning process, and adds another layer of inter-
action and involvement to the museum experience overall.
The popularity of the new technology grows through word-of-mouth, and the muse-
um is able to digitise an increasing number of its treasures, and link these with additional
RFID readers.The museum may eventually allow patrons to keep their smart cards as
souvenirs of their visit and to reuse them on subsequent visits.With the RFID technolo-
gy already in place, the possibilities for extending the functionality and range of uses for
the system are numerous.The readers attached to the exhibits may in time be linked to
Web-based interactive devices, allowing the user to store and annotate thoughts on an
item, as well as making these comments available to other interested visitors.The tags
will also be compatible with portable devices, allowing for the possibility of personalised,
`nomadic' systems being introduced in the future.
Scenario II Heritage Centre
A centre for the conservation of built heritage has a collection of some 50 historic
buildings and, given a reasonable period of notice, can arrange guided tours in a number
of European languages. After a demonstration of the benefits that smart tags can offer, the
decision is made to improve these tours via the implementation of this emerging tech-
Upon entering the centre, each visitor is supplied with a pre-programmed tag, con-
taining information on the preferred language.With headphones supplied, users may
roam around the 50-acre site as they please, accessing information on the building fea-
tures of the buildings by placing their smart tag close to one of the RFID readers dis-
creetly situated around the site.The reader then determines the language in which its
content should be presented, and instructs the audio-visual database system to relay tai-
lored background information to the visitor's headset.This alleviates the need for the
user to identify the object of interest and automates the interfacing side of the learning
process significantly.
The new system has many benefits.The RFID system can be introduced in stages,
with the most popular attractions and languages covered first.This will hold significant
benefits for the centre's financial planners, as the spoken content only has to be captured
once and may be reused many thousands of times. Resources are saved, as the manage-
ment no longer has to employ bilingual tour guides and can accept group bookings at
much shorter notice. Rather than being tied to a large group, visitors are free to follow
their own paths through the site, and have a better chance of seeing what they want
without the intimidating pressure of a sizeable crowd gathered around.Visitors become
more evenly distributed around the site at any given time, easing the strain on staff
resources.Visitor distribution has previously been a difficulty, particularly at the ends of
the guided tours when large and potentially unmanageable groups traditionally descend
on the tearoom and shop.
One potential risk of this approach is that users may feel a slight sense of isolation
Smart Labels
and Smart Tags