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subsequent visit they are encouraged to answer a short series of questions about their
forthcoming trip.This information is sifted by a specialised piece of software and the
results of this analysis are used to suggest a personalised tour of the exhibits, matching the
individual requirements and interests of the visitors.The computer application can corre-
late new information with previous data and feedback entered by the individual to suggest
related tours or exhibits that may have been missed on the previous visit, to recommend
items in temporary exhibitions, or to remind the user of the location of a favourite
display. The museum's computer also amalgamates the feedback of all users, producing
statistics from which it can calculate associated relationships between different exhibits
(e.g. visitors who liked the whale skeleton almost always also liked the dinosaur exhibit)
and different visitor profiles (e.g. the collection of Beatles memorabilia tends to be most
enjoyed by women aged between the ages of forty-five and sixty-five). Comparing these
data with the user's profile and previous preferences, further focused visit recommendations
can be made.
The personalisation software also suggests items from a collection of learning resources
(for example, worksheets for children that can either be downloaded and printed out
before the visit or collected from museum reception), and links to further information
about recommended exhibits, learning games, and multimedia on other pages of the
Web site.
Information gathered from the survey includes:
- How long is the visit expected to last? Data from the museum visitors are used to
calculate average viewing times for each exhibit/area and can then be applied in order
to suggest a tour of an appropriate length.
- Are there any children in the visiting party and what are their ages? The software
can then suggest worksheets of an appropriate level, interactive games, and stories for
exhibits that appeal to similarly aged children.
- Is there anyone in the party who has a disability? For visitors with visual impairments,
a full audio tour can be added to the personalised visit, and other resources may
include Braille worksheets, textual descriptions for visitors with hearing difficulties,
and a map of the most convenient wheelchair routes through the facilities.
- Does the visitor have one specific exhibit in mind that the tour must include? If so,
the personalised tour can use this as a fulcrum, thus allowing the visitor to return to
the exhibit with the benefit of the experience of other exhibits still fresh in the mind.
The user can save his or her tour profile, and its unique reference number can be
accessed by staff at the museum's reception desk. Naturally, certain details will be kept
private.The reference number is then used to create a download of tour information onto
the visitor's PDA, and the handheld interface is used as a guide throughout the tour.The
museum has some PDAs of its own which visitors can borrow, although a small deposit is
required.The device acts as a location identifier Bluetooth technologies throughout the
museum track each visitor's position and, using the downloaded tour information, these
trigger the delivery of information as visitors approach a specific exhibit. Sound and light-
ing effects can also be triggered for each individual display, and can be set to play audio
descriptions automatically if the party contains someone with a visual impairment or
learning difficulties.
Many exhibits include facilities for providing immediate and explicit feedback, ensuring
that the data held by the personalised tour system are non-static and remain up-to-date.
Mobile Access to
Cultural Information
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