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Mobile Access to
Cultural Information
discussion of broader implications for the design of handhelds in museum settings.
Further discussions with Newbury Networks (the contracting developer) will be held
in order to include details of the architecture and technical issues in the final report.The
final report of this case study, including a movie file/DVD of the handhelds in action,
was due to be made available in December 2003, but due to CIMI's cessation of opera-
tions this has yet to appear.The Handscape project will, however, run to completion in
The second case study has the Handscape team working with the Johnson Museum
as design advisors.The Johnson created a new handheld application specifically for third-
graders (children between nine and ten years old) as part of their OMNI (Objects and
their Makers: New Insights) educational programme.The Museum is currently collaborating
with Spotlight Mobile
and the HCI group at Cornell to develop the handheld appli-
cation and content, due to be launched in mid-February 2004.
The Dynamic Feedback Tool was envisaged as a `proof-of-concept' tool for exploring
how museums can use handhelds to evaluate visitor experiences. It was imagined that, if
an evaluation component was built into the handheld application itself, and other activities
were logged through the device, the combination of these data and their analysis would
record visitor patterns and preferences, and capture information useful in understanding
visitor experience and helpful for making future design decisions.
The project team is in the final stages of developing a proof-of-concept demonstration
application of the dynamic feedback tool principle a museum simulator with this
functionality and with the ability to present information in ways that might be useful to
both curators and visitors. In order to generate visitor patterns and preferences, the simu-
lator accepts input data of known generic visitor behaviour. It then overlays this against
the backdrop of a museum floor plan with `hot' objects, as well as the information map
for each hot object.The museum simulator creates a data file that can then be used to
experiment with different visualisations of simulated visitor data.These initial visualisations
are being demonstrated to curators and museum visitors for feedback in terms of whether
the displays grab attention, provide valuable information, and/or potentially influence
their behaviour.
The original objective of the simulator was to generate data for experimenting with
visualisations for museum curators and visitors, but the algorithms for defining typical
visitor behaviour could be modified to correspond to actual visitor behaviour.The visu-
alisation component of the tool is also intended only as a proof of concept in order to
help curators think about what kind of information they might want to track and display
when they are developing handheld applications. Feedback from the Renwick and
Johnson museums has indicated that a museum simulator tool would be of use for future
exhibit planning. At this time, however, the museum simulator has been designed only to
generate back-end data for the visualiser. Making the museum simulator user-friendly
will require additional funding and an extension of the Handscape work. In early 2004
results of the experimentation with the simulator are scheduled to be available from the
Handscape Whitesite. It is anticipated that this will include a walk-through of the simula-
tor and visualiser screen shots, a discussion about building evaluation devices into a hand-
held application, and an online or downloadable demonstration of the tool.
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