There can be little doubt these days that the public expects a great deal of interactivity when they visit a museum. Most museum curators, managers and owners will know that their visitors expect to experience the museum in an in-depth manner which means much more than simply providing a few display cases arranged with artefacts. Thanks to the latest digital technologies, museums are able to offer their visitors just this sort of immersive experience.
What's more, digital signage systems, educational consoles, information kiosks and so on can be reprogrammed. This means that your interactive equipment is not just fit for today's exhibits or for a one-off show but that it can be adapted down the line as your displays change. What are the main interactive museum devices that are being installed around the world today?
For many, the future of interactive museum technology resides with augmented reality systems. Essentially, this sort of interactive museum technology allows visitors to view additional material on their smartphone or tablet than would otherwise be available to them. Let's take an example. Imagine a visitor to a gallery holds their smartphone's camera up to one of your paintings. With an augmented reality program running locally on their device, the image will be recognised and information about the artist could stream underneath. Equally, you could use augmented reality software to put the flesh on the bones of a dinosaur that a visitor may be viewing. This sort of interactive museum technology would even be capable of allowing users to select what they read, view or interact with. They could, for instance, read a biography of an artist or search for similar works by contemporaries. Augmented reality could equally allow visitors to change the colour and appearance of a dinosaur they are viewing through their device and to help them to understand concepts like camouflage. Augmented reality is already widely used and is now said to be a technology sector which is worth over £1.4 billion.
Digital Display Technology
Display technology is likely to replace conventional signage in the future. Like other forms of interactive museum technology, digital display systems can be altered to offer information that is relevant to those nearby. You might, for example, use it to mark out the different wings of your museum but also adapt it to mark off any areas which might be temporarily closed. With near field data communications systems, digital display technology can even change languages to provide visitors with a much more tailored experience. Digital displays are also there to do the job of explaining and interpreting artefacts. They can be used to offer something as simple as the route to the nearest toilets or the times that your cafe is open but they really come into their own when they show how and where artefacts have comes from, how they might have been discovered and what questions they pose about the wider world around us.
Self-Service Touchscreen Information Kiosks
Providing assistance to visitors who need it is an important part of what any museum offers. It is possible to do this at much lower costs these days because of the many ways that interactive museum technology can be harnessed. You can think of an information kiosk that runs on self-service touchscreen technology as a means of empowering your visitors to find out what they want for themselves which they take an active rather than a passive role in.
Self-service interactive kiosks can be operated in numerous ways within a museum setting. You might use one as a way for people to pick up their tickets, for example. Many museums offer online booking and ticketing arrangements these days but still provide a manual process for actually getting tickets to visitors. Whether you charge for entry into your museum or not, ticketed events and special exhibitions may mean you need to restrict numbers at peak hours with allotted time slots. A self-service kiosk allows visitors to make all of the necessary arrangements for themselves and to pick the best time for them rather than being issued with the next available slot.
Of course, self-service touchscreen technologies offer much more than mere booking arrangements. You can use them to promote certain parts of your museum or to provide information on when the best time might be to view an attraction, such as when it is likely to be least busy. With the ability to connect to a central server, visitors should be able to plan their entire day at your facility but also – perhaps most importantly – to use the self-service tech to alter their plans and make changes as they see fit without feeling the need to rush through certain sections of your museum to stay on schedule.
The rise of virtual reality (VR) in gaming has been exponential. Yet, many visitors to a typical museum will never have tried out this sort of technology before. In terms of an engaging educational resource, VR is like nothing else. You can use it to allow visitors to explore the past, the future as well as the here and now in very exciting ways.
Those museums which are dedicated to heritage, for example, can make use of VR equipment to transport visitors back to a time when the centre might have first been built. It allows you to view a 3-D image of the past, perhaps with the correct furnishing and fittings for the day, but also to explore that reality and move through it. Equally, VR can be harnessed to demonstrate how things might be if life on earth were different, for example, what the water line might look like if global warming were to raise the sea up by a metre or two.
The great thing about VR as an interactive museum technology is that it is so flexible. Adapting it to the particular educational requirements of your museum is possible from many standard software designs without the need to start from scratch in terms of its development. Bear in mind, too, that VR can integrate well with your other digital technologies, such as signage and touchscreens.
Feel free to call L Display to discuss your interactive museum technology needs. We are happy to answer your questions as one of the leading suppliers of technology solutions for museums and heritage spaces in the country.