background image
tions to improve public access to and understanding of the cultural heritage, but the fact
that their creation remains a `handicraft' has constrained their broad adoption. New tech-
nologies not only enable museums to reach beyond their walls through virtual exhibitions,
but they offer new ways for visitors to access resources and participate in exhibitions.
These developments benefit from improvements in the human computer interaction
discussed in TWR1 (2003). A wide array of devices, providing different modes of inter-
action based on different underlying concepts is coming into commercial use.The design
of these devices reflects the needs and abilities of users, the range of human senses, from
hearing to touch, that can be harnessed, and the recognition that portability is essential.
New methods of human computer interaction make it possible for cultural institutions
to provide visitors with dynamic and immersive tools for observing collections not cur-
rently on display or with mechanisms that can give tactile and weight sensations while
they "virtually" hold fragile and restricted access items. In issue 6 of DigiCULT.Info the
Cultural and Educational Technology Institute (Greece) described 3D multimedia tools
for archiving cultural heritage materials from landscapes to objects. One of the strengths
of their work is that it enables access to and display of other data types alongside the
models. Future improvements at the interface between person and machine will focus
on multi-modality, easier use and more immediately reactive interfaces. For the cultural
heritage field this will mean a broadening of the group of prospective users and more
natural communication between user and computer system.While collaboration tech-
nologies will enable the emergence of virtual communities, new mobile access technologies
provide a powerful tool for making information resources available during visits to cultural
Technologies likely to have a strong influence on future institutional strategies include
increasingly powerful, portable and affordable devices such as PDAs and cellular phones,
and new wireless communication protocols such as Bluetooth,WAP (Wireless Application
Protocol) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service). In contrast to the use of audio
guides or other specialised devices which are typically maintained by the cultural heritage
institutions and borrowed by the visitors, new mobile devices are often owned by the
visitors themselves.This may bring a radical change in the way heritage institutions think
about formulating and financing their technology strategies.What is becoming increasingly
necessary is the ability to provide wireless connection to the right information and to
suitable content, with guaranteed compatibility across platforms and protocols.Visitors
therefore benefit from guides that can offer an unprecedented level of personalisation and
self-direction. Early mobile access devices have already been introduced in a variety of
institutions, and are commonly found in museums and open-air exhibits. From museum
corridors to city streets, the case studies contained in this section cover a range of
approaches and purposes made possible by the development of portable devices.The
ultra-futuristic, sociological ambitions of Urban Tapestries are in contrast to the more
modest and practical educational aims of the Handscape and MUSEpad projects.
Scenarios presented examine eTourism, preservation, and personalisation. Here again
technologies that we examined in TWR1 (2003) such as Customer Relationship
Management systems (CRM or eCRM) can provide the information base about visitors
and other heritage institutions clients to support the personalisation opportunities created
by mobile access devices and avatars.
TWR1 examined the use of smart tags which use radio frequency identification (RFID)
technology to read information on the tags fixed to or embedded into an object or its
TWR2004_01_layout#62 14.04.2004 14:07 Uhr Seite 12