High-tech museums on the horizon
With the proliferation of exciting high-tech applications on handheld devices for use in numerous sectors, it is high time museums and exhibitions jump on the bandwagon as well. The EU-funded project 'Gaming and guiding system for museum and exhibition environments' (Explore) aimed to make visits to these venues much more engaging, informative and captivating through such applications. In order to create an interactive location-based system based on Bluetooth technology, the project could potentially increase attendance to museums, among other public venues or events. The system would encourage infotainment rather than just entertainment or information, particularly among the young generation. Explore envisioned a scalable system for different sized venues. It sought to enable online networking among European museums to foster valuable exchanges, allowing as well dynamic interaction among individuals visiting the same display at the same time. The system was also designed to provide information about a locale or building, objects on display and different rooms available. The project outlined the system's requirements and specifications, developing the module based on Java technology and XML format for mobile phones using the Symbian system. It tested it in two museums, one in Finland and the other in Italy, revealing some critical areas for fine tuning such as system response time and better instructions for optimal use. Explore was presented in both countries in 2005, with many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) showing interest to exploit the application. As the technology progresses, minor existing issues are likely to be resolved and the system will likely help make museums a much more interesting experience.