How can we re-align museum practices to make more of changing technologies? MOSI
Museums Computer Group/Digital Learning Network Engaging digital audiences in museums 1 July 2012, University of Manchester What next steps can we take to improve our museums ability to make the most of technology for the benefit of our users? MOSI Case Study Learning points from recent projects: • Hardware obsolescence • Hardware resilience • Bespoke software limitations • Visitor behaviour!
Hardware obsolescence Connecting Manchester Gallery – opened in Nov 2007 Mi-guide is a hand-held multimedia Guide. During early development of mi-Guide, hardware options considered were: • smart phones – inadequate functionality, network charges • tablet PCs – too big, too expensive (because low take-up then) • PDAs – unfamiliar to many but chosen because tried and tested (e.g. Tate Modern) and wifi-compatible In April 2007 Dell announced that it was ceasing manufacture of PDAs.
Hardware obsolescence and standards Revolution Manchester Gallery screens galore! • Media wall – 50 x 46-inch bezelless LCD screens • Registration posts – 15 screens • Bar-code activated exhibits – 11 screens (+ 4 iPads) • Stand-alone screens – 11 Manufacturers’ ranges of screen sizes can change at short notice. Problem with screens for Zeta generator game – table designed for one manufacturer’s screens but changed to another manufacturer’s screens during procurement – for cost saving. Screens were nominally the same size but not so in reality.
Hardware/software resilience Revolution Manchester Gallery Gallery designers (Kin Design) were very keen to use iPads for the bar- code activated exhibit in front of the replica Baby computer – world’s first stored-program computer interpreted via latest must-have computer. But iPads arent designed for kiosk use. Problems experienced: • Pinhole access to start button - visitors find ways to reboot and get into other software. • Apples frequent iPad OS updates have an undesirable impact on the maintenance load.
Bespoke software limitations Revolution Manchester Gallery media wall The 16:9 aspect ratio was a strong element of the gallery design so the wall is made up of: • a main wall of a 3 x 3 central section, flanked by two 4 x 4 sections (41 screens) Full 50-screen rendering • a fractured side wall (leading to the digital sculpture) with 9 screens interspersed by light boxes and blanks The screen arrangment means that the operating software had to be bespoke – because the rendering server is performing a Full 50-screen rendering non-standard function. This limits the media that can be shown. Alternative format
Visitor behaviourRevolution Manchester Gallery registrationWhen visitors register a bar-code card, their photo is taken andshown on the digital sculpture – ascending from bottom to top.When they activate games with their card, they collect assets – e.g.scores. They can access these assets by going to the MOSIwebsite and entering their card number and user name to open apersonal page.The registration screens and the cards prompt visitors to keep theircards and remember their user names, but we get regular requeststo retrieve user names – a time-consuming task! Post-visit The Your Revolution Manchester page is where visitors log in.